After remaining stranded on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for five long days without food and water, a sea of stranded passengers finally jostle against each other to climb a 30-feet tall cement pillar that connects to a wrecked bridge, which hasn’t been used since ages. On the other side of this bridge lies a road, which leads to Kashmir –a hope that is making hundreds walk on foot as shooting-stones keep tumbling from uphill.
On this hostile route where any connection to the government continues to be inaccessible, internet connectivity has helped the stranded people share their woes with the outside world. Some of these people didn’t miss the opportunity to capture these helpless moments on their smart phones, as they shared it on social media. The visuals including pictures and videos have gone viral with people posting a firsthand account of the crisis on the highway.
Such visuals, a reminiscent of situation typically faced by war refugees, is the bitter reality of what people often have to go through while travelling down this 300 kilometer road.
The passengers who were stranded midway in the Ramban and Banihal region say that they had been starving for all these days without any food, water or government support. “Government is nowhere. Nobody came to our rescue. Even a water bottle was costing Rs 100 when we has no money. We finally decided to walk on foot than die unheard sitting in the vehicle,” a stranded passenger told InUth on phone, while negotiating Khooni Nallah, a deadly gorge on the highway.
Over the years landslides caused by wet weather have been the main cause of blockade on this strategically important highway. But then, what prevents the government from taking remedial measures?
In the era of technological advancement, the weatherman has been giving precise weather forecast details. This time there was an advisory of weeklong wet spell with a forecast of snowfall and rain. So what exactly prevented the government from closing the highway before time? And why administration fails to overcome chaos of stranded passengers?
While passengers continue to suffer, accidents have been on an all time rise. In January this year, all the members of a family were killed when their car was reportedly hit by a shooting-stone. However,?the government doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons from such episodes or else the thousands of stranded passengers wouldn’t have been left alone amid landslides and shooting stones.
Inspector General of Police Traffic Jagjit Kumar says the passengers have been requested not to walk on foot as there were apprehensions of more landslides. So if the advisory has been passed why does administration act like mute spectator, while stranded passengers face such harsh situations?