Vohra aggrieved, anguished; Div Com directs road safety audits
JAMMU: The tragedy struck the Kishtwar twice in two days when a van carrying Machail Mata pilgrims skidded off the road and fell into the Chenab River on Tuesday, killing all 13 occupants of the vehicle, including a five-year-old girl, inviting fury from an aggrieved Governor N N Vohra who directed Divisional Commissioners of both regions to conduct immediate meetings, following which he will review the causes of the recurring fatal accidents in a meeting on Saturday.
Only a day before, seven people were killed and 12 injured after two vehicles came under a landslide in the district.
On Tuesday early morning, around 7:50 am, an Ecco van bearing registration number JK17-3594 met with an accident at Noose Kwad Padyarna resulting into death of 13 persons travelling in it.
“The incident took place when they were returning from the Mata Machail temple in the district,”Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rajinder Kumar Gupta told.
“The driver of the ill-fated vehicle lost his control as a result of which the Vehicle plunged into Chenab river.”
He said 13 people, including 11 pilgrims, were killed. The deceased included the driver and conductor of the van, he said, adding 11 were from Doda while two from Kishtwar.
The deceased were identified as Jyoti Devi daughter of Kewal Singh of Moti Marmat Doda; Kewal Krishan son of Dhani Ram, Sanam daughter of Kewal Krishan, Sushma daughter of Kewal Krishan, Bhishma Devi daughter of Dhani Ram, Sandesha Devi wife of Dev Raj, Badri Nath son of Nayan Singh, Safeda Devi wife of Badri Nath, Dev Raj son of Dhani Ram—all residents of Muthi Marmat Doda; Bahadur Singh son of Bhima and Pushpa Devi wife of Bahadur Singh—both residents of Melan Doda; and Danish son of Mehboob Sheikh of Banderna and Abu Wala son of Sajjad Hussain of Bander of Kishtwar.
The district administration was yet to announce compensation for the next of kin of deceased.
“We will be providing the immediate relief from Red Cross by this evening. The ex-gratia relief from state will be announced tomorrow,” District Commissioner Kishtwar Angrez Singh Rana told The News Now.
A five-year-old girl who was the only survivor of the accident, succumbed to her injuries while she was being taken to a hospital, the SSP said.
As soon as the news of the accident spread out, the locals and the Police immediately reached the spot and started rescue operation.
They were soon joined by army, CRPF, SSB, Fire Service officials, SDRF and other and after four hour hectic operation, all the 13 occupants were recovered from the accident site among which 12 were declared as dead on spot while a 5 year old girl died at Jammu Hospital.
Gupta, who supervised the rescue operations, said police and locals launched the operation as soon as information was received, and all the bodies have been recovered.
Jammu and Kashmir DGP S P Vaid said, “A vehicle carrying pilgrims to the Machail Mata temple rolled down and fell into the Chenab river, around 28 km from Kishtwar, in the Padder belt area today,”
Over one lakh pilgrims have visited mountain shrine of Machain Mata in Paddar hills of Kishtwar till now.
This is the second major accident in Kishtwar district in the past 24 hours.
Yesterday, seven people, including a policeman, were killed and 12 others injured after two vehicles came under a landslide in the district.
The incident took place at Kulligad on the Doda-Kishtwar road. Huge boulders and debris suddenly came down from a hill burying a mini-bus and a car plying on the Doda-Kishtwar road, the SSP had said.
Meanwhile, outgoing Governor N N Vohra today expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.
The Governor conveyed his sympathy to the next of kin of the deceased passengers, a Raj Bhawan spokesperson said.
Vohra, who has repeatedly expressed concern over the recurring road accidents, directed the Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that the Deputy Commissioners convene immediate meetings of the District Road Safety Committees, the spokesperson said.
The Governor will chair a meeting on Saturday to review the causes of the recurring fatal accidents, he said.
In the fallout of his directions, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma today directed the Deputy Commissioners to chalk out effective strategies and conduct road safety audits to avoid fatal road accidents particularly in hilly areas to minimize loss of human lives.
The Div Com stated this while chairing a meeting with DCs of Jammu division through video conference.
All the Deputy Commissioners informed the Divisional Commissioner about the present status of National Highway and link roads in their respective districts.
The Div Com directed the DCs to constitute a team comprising of officers from Revenue, Transport, PWD and other concerned departments for conducting field visits in accident prone areas and initiate safety measures to avoid mishaps.
“There is need to increase efforts to promote awareness about the various aspects of road safety and to curb the rising menace of road accidents”, the Div Com maintained.
He asked the DCs to ensure that every vehicle must be checked properly before plying on road.
He directed the DCs to appoint District Red Cross Secretaries and asked to install donation boxes and mobilize resources to enhance Red Cross Funds.
Later, the Div Com reviewed Land acquisition cases under road project and directed the DCs to gear up men and machinery to speed up the process of land acquisition.