Chandi Mata pilgrims among 7 killed, 12 injured as landslide hits vehicles

Ajay Raina
KISHTWAR, Aug 20: Seven persons including Chandi Mata pilgrims were killed and 12 others sustained grievous injuries when a landslide struck the vehicles they were travelling in near Kuligarh area on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar highway this morning.
According to the reports, a Maruti car bearing registration number JK02K-5777 and a mini-bus number JK14D-3812 were on their way from Thathri to Kishtwar when huge boulders and debris suddenly came down from a hillock trapping these vehicles near Kuligarh area on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar highway resulting into on-the-spot death of five persons, some of whom were believed to be the pilgrims of Chandi Mata and injuries to 14 others.
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On getting information, police team led by SSP Kishtwar Rajinder Kumar Gupta rushed to the spot and started rescue operation with the help of volunteers of Red Cross and local youth. Former Minister Sunil Kumar Sharma along with Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Angrez Singh Rana also reached the spot and monitored the rescue operation.
Eight injured persons were first shifted to Community Health Centre (CHC) Thathri by a police team led by SHO Thathri Inspector Sunil Sharma and then to District Hospital Doda while as six other injured persons were rushed to District Hospital Kishtwar.
A minor injured girl succumbed to her injuries while being shifted to District Hospital Doda whileas another injured breathed his last while being shifting to Government Medical College and Hospital Jammu from District Hospital Kishtwar taking the death toll in the tragic incident to 7.
Five dead bodies were shifted to SDH Thathri while two deceased were kept in morgue of District Hospital Doda.
The deceased have been identified as Kewal Kumar (SgCt), son of Bodh Raj, a resident of Kewa District Udhampur, Amar Nath, son of Beli Ram, a resident of Basantgarh, District Udhampur, Askanta Devi, daughter of Kewal Kumar, a resident of District Udhampur, Mohammad Hussain, son of Karim Din of Balgran Bounjwah, Sankesha Devi, wife of Kalyan Singh of Chattra, Tehsil Bhalla, District Doda, Tirth Ram (Ex-Sarpanch Balota, District Udhampur), son of Rodu of Baltha Basantgarh and Vandhan Mathur, wife of Kewal Kumar (SgCt), a resident of District Udhampur.
After conducting autopsy at CHC Thathri and Distt Doda the bodies of the deceased were handed over to their family members’ for last rites.
The injured persons admitted in District Hospital Kishtwar have been identified as Kalyan Singh, son of Fakir Chand and Subash Chander, son of Jai Krishan, Rita Devi, wife of Subash Chander, trio residents of Bhaderwah, Mohammad Hussain, son of Karim Din, a resident of Balgran Bonjwah, Maan Singh, son of Om Parkash of District Udhampur and Rahim Ali, son of Alam Din, a resident of District Kathua.
The injured persons admitted in District Hospital Doda have been identified as Raj Kumar, son of Kaku Ram, Sunil Kumar, son of Ram Lal, Vasu, son of Kewal, Kaku Ram and Sudesh Kumar, son of Munshi Ram, all residents of District Udhampur and Dev Raj, son of Choru Ram, a resident of Balgran.
Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Angrez Singh Rana has announced Rs 4 lakh each as compensation to the next of kin of the deceased under State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF). The injured persons will be compensated as per the norms, he added.
People said that Kuligarh area has turned out to be the most vulnerable accident spot on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar highway and has claimed large number of lives due to landslides till date but the concerned authorities of the Government have failed to initiate steps to stabilize the rock.
“Crores of rupees are being sanctioned for the maintenance of this highway every year but problem of landslides at this particular spot has not been solved by the concerned agency”, they regretted and appealed to the Governor to pass necessary directions for stabilization of rock on war footing basis to avoid further accidents.
Meanwhile, Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister & Member Parliament (MP) from Kathua-Udhampur-Doda constituency has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.
He has prayed for peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families. He also directed the authorities to provide best medical treatment to the injured persons.
Governor NN Vohra has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the tragic accident. He has prayed for peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families. Governor has issued directions to the Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar to provide best medical treatment to the injured at the District Hospital.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) Vice President and MLA Inderwal Ghulam Mohammad Saroori has expressed grief over the loss of precious lives in the accident and expressed solidarity with the bereaved families. He also prayed for peace to the departed souls.
Senior National Conference (NC) leader and former Home Minister Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo has also expressed grief and sorrow over loss of lives in the accident.