By Khalid Gul
Pahalgam, J& K, India, (Greater Kashmir): Four youth drowned to death when a vehicle they were travelling in plunged into the fast moving Lidder river in this picturesque resort of South Kashmir.
The road mishap took place during intervening night of Thursday and Friday at around 11:40 PM, when a Tavera vehicle bearing number JK03C/5947 on way to Pahalgam from Pulwama in south Kashmir fell into the river in Nunwan area of Pahalgam. “Four persons including the driver of the vehicle drowned to death,” a police spokesperson said.
The deceased have been identified as Danish Bhat @ Raju (19) son of Ayoub Bhat, Umar Ahanger son of Farooq Ahanger (20), Lateef Ahmad Bhat (21) son of Muhammad Akram residents of Puchal Pulwama and driver Bilal Ahmad Dar (25) son of Abdul Ahad resident of Lajoora, Pulwama.
“A team of experts comprising representatives of fire services, Kashmir Rafting Operators Association, Jawahar Lal Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (JIM), police and Army as well as locals immediately rushed to the spot and launched a rescue operation,” an official said.
He said that the operation continued throughout the night. The four bodies were recovered from river Lidder near Langanbal, Batkoot, Yanner and Aamad Wagad downstream Pahalgam in the morning and handed over to their families for last rites, police said.
However, one passenger Ajaz Ahmad Bhat son of Ghulam Hassan of Puchal Pulwama survived miraculously and was rescued last night only, police said. Bhat has been admitted in Pahalgam Hospital, where doctors termed his condition stable.
“All the five youth had left home at 7.10 pm on Thursday. They had planned overnight stay at Pahalgam,” the locals said. Officials attributed the reason of accident to “slippery road due to rainfall during the night.”
“Since road was slippery due to rainfall, the driver failed to negotiate a turn and plunging the vehicle into the river,” officials said.
Meanwhile, the relatives, who arrived at Pahalgam to get the bodies of the deceased, protested strongly against the Pahalgam administration for not cooperating with them.
They were raising slogans against the administration and police. “No help or cooperation was provided by the administration to us for fishing out the bodies,” the relatives of the deceased told Greater Kashmir.
The locals cited the absence of sign boards from Aishmuqam to Pahalgam as the main reason for frequent accidents. “The Khannabal-Pahalgam (KP) road is one of the important roads as it is frequented by tourists, Yatris and locals alike, so there should have been sign boards for the safety of passengers travelling during late night hours,” said the residents.
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed deep shock and grief over the tragic accident.
Expressing sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the accident, party president Mehbooba Mufti and legislators Rafi Ahmad Mir and Muhammad Khalil Bandh conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and the party’s Zone President Pulwama Haji Muhammad Shaban Bhat. Bhat’s two grandsons died in the accident.
PDP leaders appreciated the role of local youth and the administration including police for their help in fishing out the bodies from the river Lidder.