Locals say ‘deaf government’ not heeding demands for tunnel in Khooni Nallah area
Kupwara: Three survivors emerged from Friday’s avalanche near Sadhna Top in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, while 10 bodies were recovered from underneath the snow on Saturday by the police, the army and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) with the help of local people.
The tragedy struck on Friday afternoon when a passenger Tata Sumo going to Tangdar from Kupwara, bearing registration number JK09A/3249, and a Beacon vehicle, and also some pedestrians were hit by an avalanche near Sadhna Top on the Kupwara-Tangdar road. Officials said that a joint rescue operation was launched by the police, the Army, the SDRF and local people on Friday afternoon when the avalanche hit the area.
On Saturday morning, rescue teams found a 50-year-old man alive in the snow. He was immediately shifted to hospital for treatment. The survivor was identified as Ghulam Nabi Bhat, son of Ali Mohammed Bhat, a resident of Kalmona, Kralpora, Kupwara. A 10-year-old boy and one of the two Beacon vehicle personnel, attached to the Border Roads Organisation, had been found injured on Friday, and they, too, were sent to hospital for treatment. However, another Beacon vehicle official, identified as Hawaldar MP Singh, was discovered dead under the snow on Friday.
Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jahangir told Kashmir Reader that bodies of 10 people, both men and women, were recovered from the snow. The bodies have been sent to hospital for legal formalities. A Beacon officer’s body was found on Friday evening, he said. The death toll due to the avalanche had reached 11 persons, the DC said, while stating that the rescue operation was almost over in the area.
“It was a painful accident in which several people lost their lives,” Jahangir said.
Soon after the bodies of passengers travelling in the Sumo vehicle were recovered on Saturday morning, local people staged a protest against the government for not building a tunnel in the accident-prone area.
Local sources in the area said that Sadhna Top is one of the far-flung areas of the Valley and people there have long been demanding a tunnel to make safe their travel in winter. “Every year, people are losing their lives while crossing this area,” said a local who took part in the protest held today. “We have been demanding a tunnel for the past several decades. But the deaf government cannot hear our demands. Today, we have lost several lives due to the absence of a safe road here,” he said.
The locals appealed to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to issue an order for the construction of a tunnel in the area known as Khooni Nallah.
Meanwhile, CM Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief and sorrow over the death of the people. The Chief Minister expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for solace to the departed souls. An official statement said that she has directed the Kupwara district administration to ensure all possible medical assistance to those injured in the accident.
Minister for Tourism, Tassaduq Hussain Mufti also expressed grief and prayed for peace to the departed souls.