Vinoth, a priest at a Murugan temple in RK Nagar, and his friend Barani planned the pilgrimage months ago and left Chennai on March 11 with 34 others from the neighbourhood after a tour guide assured that there were no restrictions on pilgrimage.
However, when they crossed the Indo-Nepal border on March 20, their travel was hampered by a vehicle breakdown. “Military personnel helped them repair the vehicle but a landslide further delayed our travel. That is when we were told that a nationwide curfew has been ordered in India. We decided to return to India on March 24 but were stopped at the border,” said Senthil over the phone from Sonauli.
Senthil further said that he immediately got in touch with Rajesh, an AIADMK functionary in RK Nagar, and the matter was taken up with Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. Immediately, Lok Sabha MP OP
Ravindranath Kumar was alerted and after his communication with the External Ministry, the stranded pilgrims were allowed to cross the border on Friday and provided with shelter at Sonauli.
“Most of the pilgrims are above 50 years and have health ailments. Though we are not sure when we would be able to return to Chennai, we have been assured by the local authorities that our essential needs would be taken care of until the curfew is relaxed,” Senthil added.