Baramulla, Jan 31: At least eight persons died while seven others were injured after a cab crammed with passengers rolled down a deep gorge at Bujthalan, Boniyar Uri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday.
The deceased have been identified as Tahira, 35, wife of Riyaz Ahmad Sheikh; Aamina Bano, 17, daughter of Abdul Ghani Sheikh; Muhammad Maqbool Sheikh, 70, son of Ghulam Ahmad Sheikh; Maqsood Ahmad, 40, son of Ghulam Rasool Sheikh; Abdul Rehman Lone, 65, son of Fateh Lone; Sameena Begum, 45, wife of Abdul Hamid Sheikh; Sarwa Begum, 55, wife of Ghulam Muhammad Bakshi; and Abdul Razak, 60, son of Abdul Rehman, all residents of Bujithallan, Boniyar.
Six of the seven injured have been identified as Shabir Ahmad, Khurshid Ahmad, Junaid Ahmad, Meema, Muhammad Shafi, and Yasir Ahmad.
Two of the injured with critical head injuries have been shifted to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar, for specialised treatment.
Block Medical Officer (BMO) Public Health Centre (PHC), Boniyar, Khurshid Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that they received eight injured persons and seven bodies at around 2:30 pm.
“Among the injured, one person succumbed at Government Medical College (GMC), Baramulla,” he said. “As per the primary survey injury protocol, the eight injured persons were referred to GMC Baramulla for the necessary treatment.”
The mishap depicts the grave consequences of overloading in passenger vehicles, shedding light on the perilous conditions faced by people in hilly areas.
The ill-fated cab (JK05B 0946), was travelling from Bujthalan to Boniyar when the driver of the vehicle lost control over the wheel while negotiating a curve,
ultimately plunging into a deep gorge, resulting in the death of eight passengers and injuries to seven others.
Among the injured, two with critical head injuries were rushed to SKIMS Srinagar for specialised treatment.
The vehicle was crammed with 15 passengers and even the driver’s seat was occupied by two passengers.
The narrow road, slippery road conditions, and overloading are believed to have caused the mishap.
The locals here were furious over the delayed rescue operation.
They said despite informing the authorities on time, the ambulance arrived at least an hour late, which delayed the transportation of the injured persons.
However, locals and J&K Police personnel shifted the injured and evacuated the bodies from the deep gorge.
The site of the accident witnessed a huge commotion.
The aggrieved residents were yelling while women were beating their chests.
Muhammad Sidiq who was at the accident site said, “It is more than 300 meters deep gorge. The chances of the survival of the passengers are very low.”
The overloading of passenger vehicles in the hilly areas is a common practice.
Despite narrow roads and blind curves, the overloading of passenger vehicles like cabs continues to put the lives of passengers in danger.
“A cab is authorised to ferry only seven passengers at a time. However, in remote areas, the practice of overloading goes unchecked as a result of which such mishaps occur often,” said Altaf Ahmad, a resident.
Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Kashmir, Syed Shahnawaz Bukhari told Greater Kashmir that the vehicle involved in the accident had been fined twice in January for the same offence of overloading.
“Although all his documents are up to date, the driver repeated the same offence,” he said.
Bukhari said that the department has already cancelled the licenses of around 23 drivers for overloading.
“It is extremely important for the people not to board vehicles which are overloaded, especially in the remote and hilly areas,” he said.
The mishap left the people in the entire Bujthalan village devastated.
All the dead and injured are from the same village and most of them are relatives.
Meanwhile, heavy snowfall is complicating the transportation of the bodies of the accident victims to their native village.
The area was witnessing heavy snowfall in the evening while the bodies were enroute to the Bujthalan village of Boniyar.
The devastated villagers are now confronting challenging weather conditions.
As the heavy snowfall blanketed the village and its surroundings, a sombre procession unfolded.
Eight precious lives, lost in an unforgiving accident, awaited their final journey home.
The very road that connected them to their resting place had become an impassable obstacle, leaving the grieving villagers in a heart-wrenching predicament.
The authorities had deployed a lone JCB to clear the road, however, transporting the bodies to their native village following the heavy snowfall that started in the area by evening looked extremely difficult.
“The JCB’s mechanical arms are striving to clear a path through the thick snow. But nature is posing a huge challenge,” Fayaz Ahmad, a local said over the phone.
His voice trembled with sadness as he described the struggle over the phone.
“It is heart-wrenching. We are unable to shift the bodies to the village as it is heavily snowing both in the village and on the route. Each snowflake seems to echo the collective sorrow of residents,” he said.
In a desperate attempt to overcome the logistical nightmare, the villagers contemplated a solemn solution.
One by one, they would carry the departed on the front portion of the JCB, typically used for lifting or excavating sand.
Riyaz Ahmad, a resident said over the phone, “Everyone here is in pain. And now, the adverse conditions are making the last rites difficult. Each step forward is a battle here.”
Meanwhile, besides the locals, the Army personnel and J&K Police are helping the locals in shifting the bodies to their native village.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Minga Sherpa accompanied by Additional Deputy Commissioner, Zahoor Ahmad Raina Wednesday evening visited the GMC
Baramulla to assess the condition of the patients who were injured in the accident.
During the visit, the DC interacted with the injured and their attendants to ensure they were receiving proper medical care and assured them of every possible support from the district administration during this difficult time.
The DC directed the Medical Superintendent to ensure every possible medical support is being provided to the patients.
Later, the DC paid a visit to the Community Health Centre (CHC) Boniyar, where the injured and deceased were initially brought, and interacted with the doctors and
medical staff there to gain more insights into the situation.
Speaking to the media regarding the accident, the DC said that a cab enroute from Bujthalan village to Boniyar and carrying passengers skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge.
Sherpa said that a prompt response from volunteers, district administration officials, and Police personnel facilitated the rescue efforts, resulting in the saving of seven precious lives, who were currently receiving treatment at GMC Baramulla.
The DC offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of the eight persons who lost their lives in this accident and assured them of every possible support from the district administration.