New Delhi: Over 1,500 Indian pilgrims, undertaking Kailash Mansarovar yatra, have been stranded in mountainous region in Nepal near Tibet due to inclement weather and India has sought assistance from Kathmandu to evacuate them.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said about 525 pilgrims are stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 are stuck in Tibet side. She said India has requested the Nepal government for army helicopters to evacuate stranded Indian nationals.
In a series of tweets, Swaraj said India has set up hotlines for pilgrims and their family members who will be provided information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages. The pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibetan region of China is considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Every year, hundreds of Indians undertake the ‘yatra’ which involves trekking under inhospitable conditions.
“Indian Embassy in Nepal has deployed representatives in Nepalganj and Simikot. They are in touch with the pilgrims and ensuring that food and lodging facilities are available to all the pilgrims,” Swaraj said. In Simikot, the minister said, a health check up has been carried out on all the elderly pilgrims and they are being provided required medical help.
“In Hilsa we have requested police authorities for necessary assistance,” she said. Sources said the Indian Embassy in Nepal have asked all tour operators to try and hold pilgrims back in Tibet side as far as possible since the medical and civic facilities on Nepal side are inadequate. They said the mission is looking at various alternatives to evacuate the stranded people from Simikot, including through separate routes.