Elderly woman goes missing on tour under Odisha govt’s pilgrimage scheme

Berhampur: When 72-year-old Laxmi Behera, a resident of Dura village of Berhampur, had departed for pilgrimage on February 15, little did her family members know that she will go missing during the trip.

The elderly woman was among the 1,060 pilgrims who embarked on a journey from Berhampur to south India as part of Odisha government’s Barishtha Nagarika Tirtha Yojana (senior citizen pilgrimage scheme).

After Laxmi didn’t return along with other pilgrims to Berhampur on February 20, her family members tried to contact the agent. However, they alleged that they could not reach the agent on his number.

“The agent had assured that she will return home safely but now his phone is switched off. We are worried about her and have not had food for the last 3 days,” Laxmi’s son, Bijay Behera, said.

According to some of the other pilgrims, while going to Tamil Nadu’s Ranganath temple, Laxmi had gone missing in the crowd following which they had informed the agent. However, the agent had allegedly ignored their alarms.

“I asked the bus driver to stop the vehicle saying that Laxmi had not returned, but the bus left without her,” Laxmi’s neighbour, Kautuki Behera alleged.

Meanwhile, sub-collector of Berhampur, Digant Samantaray said that a search operation is on to find Laxmi. He assured that action will be taken against those who are responsible for the incident.