Video shows passengers climbing a mountain to cross over to the other side
Srinagar: Thousands of passengers are stranded on Srinagar-Jammu highway since Sunday after fresh landslides blocked the 300km long road.
The passengers blamed traffic police for not giving accurate information about the damaged condition of the highway. Stranded passengers who spoke to Kashmir Reader said that since Sunday morning they repeatedly asked traffic police officials to inform whether they should wait or move towards Srinagar. “But we received no response from the officials. They repeatedly denied exact information about the road condition and passengers were left with no option but to go ahead, knowing not what disaster lay ahead,” Irfan Qureshi, one among the thousands of passengers stuck on the highway, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that at about 12pm on Sunday, passengers left from Jammu to Srinagar and as soon as they reached Chandrekoot, highway officials stopped them from going ahead and asked them to go back.
“They told us that the highway had suffered heavy damage and it would take almost five days to restore. On Sunday, the traffic department on its Facebook page had posted that traffic would be allowed from Jammu to Srinagar subject to fair weather,” Qureshi said.
Passengers alleged that officials “cheated” them by not warning them of the “heavy damage” to the highway. “If at all there was heavy damage, they (officials) should have informed us about the same,” passengers said.
A video has gone viral on Facebook in which passengers can be seen risking their lives climbing a 20-ft pillar to cross to the other side. A rope is being used to pull up their luggage.
“Hundreds of passengers climbed the 300-ft risky mountain after the official announcement that the highway would take around five days to restore. The scenes at the highway were like of Syrian refugees crossing over mountains to seek asylum in another nation,” a stranded passenger said.
Passengers also complained that there was no arrangement for stay or even water made by the government.
Sanjay Baghat, Superintendent of Traffic (Highway) told Kashmir Reader that there were sudden landslides at more than three places that forced the traffic police to close the road.
“On Sunday, the road was clear and through for traffic from Jammu to Srinagar, but at about 10am, shooting stones occurred at a few places in Ramban. By then, hundreds of vehicles had reached there and we had to stop them from going ahead to avert any untoward incident,” he said.
He denied information of people climbing a high pillar to cross a mountain and said he would look into the matter. “I don’t have any knowledge of it. I would look into it,” he said.
Baghat said that highway agencies had been working day and night to repair the damages and all efforts were being made to make the road functional at the earliest.