Stranded Kailash-bound Indian legislator, pilgrims rescued

September 21st, 2010 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Sep 21 (IANS) Forty-one Indian pilgrims bound for Mt Kailash, including a legislator from Rajasthan who had developed high altitude sickness, have been rescued safely from the Nepal-Tibet border where they had been stranded for almost a week due to bad weather, Indian Embassy officials in Kathmandu said.

The group was returning from circumambulating the mountain in Tibet, regarded as one of the holiest pilgrim destinations, when they were stranded due to bad weather at Taklakot town on the Tibetan border last week.

The pilgrims included 18 people from Rajasthan, including Mohan Lal Gupta, a legislator of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, and others from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Mumbai.

There were also two British citizens of Indian-origin.

Gupta, who was accompanied by his wife, developed high altitude sickness due to the lack of oxygen in the rarified air in Tibet, prompting calls by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, and the Chief Secretary of the state, Salauddin Ahmed, to the Indian Embassy for the pilgrims’ speedy evacuation.

“On Monday, the weather finally cleared and a domestic airline from Nepal airlifted them to Simikot town on the Nepal border,” said A.K. Roy of the consular division at the Indian Embassy who coordinated the rescue operation. “From there, a group took the road route from Nepalgunj while another flew to Kathmandu.”

The British citizens caught a flight back to London Tuesday while Gupta is expected to return to Rajsthan within a couple of days.

Simrik Air, the domestic airline that had ferried the passengers back, said it made five trips.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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