16 inhabitants of a village killed, one injured as vehicle plunges into gorge

Mangled remains of vehicle after accident near Khellani on Tuesday.—Excelsior/Tilak Raj
Mangled remains of vehicle after accident near Khellani on Tuesday.—Excelsior/Tilak Raj

Accident raises questions over performance of several agencies

Ajay Raina
JAMMU, Nov 12: Pal of gloom descended on village Mangota in mountainous Doda district as 16 of its inhabitants including 4 children were killed when an overloaded Trax passenger vehicle they were traveling in skidded off the road and plunged into deep gorge near Khellani on Batote-Kishtwar Highway this afternoon.
The tragedy has put all the concerned authorities in the dock for being non-serious towards blatant violation of rules especially for using mobile phones while driving by the operators of the private passenger vehicles in hilly areas.
The ill-fated vehicle bearing registration number JK06-1182 was on its way to Marmat from Doda when the driver failed to negotiate a sharp curve while talking on mobile phone as a result of which the vehicle plunged into deep gorge near Khellani and later touched the surface of the Batote-Kishtwar highway after hitting several stones and boulders enroute, resulting into on the spot death of 12 persons and injuries to 5 others of village Mangota, district Doda.

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The vehicle having seating capacity for around 13 persons including driver was actually carrying 17 passengers including 4 children in blatant violation of the rules. Both the driver and conductor preferred to put the lives of all the passengers to the grave risk without fearing any action from the authorities.
“The vehicle was overloaded and the driver was talking on the mobile phone when he failed to negotiate a sharp curve and the vehicle plunged into deep gorge near Khellani,” some eyewitnesses told the EXCELSIOR.
“Traffic Police Department has been challaning the drivers and for using mobile phones while driving in plain areas, but takes no action in hilly areas, where there is dire need to check this practice,” they added.
On getting information about the accident, police teams rushed to the spot and with the help of locals started rescue operation.
Assistant Commis-sioner Revenue (ACR) Doda Kaisar Ahmed Bhawani and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Doda Mumtaz Ahmed also reached the spot to personally supervise the rescue operation.
Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also Member of Parliament from the area, remained in touch with district administration and police authorities during the rescue operation.
He also talked to Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sanjeev Verma and offered all possible help and relief including from personal sources.
After hectic efforts, all the five injured persons were rescued and shifted to District Hospital Doda where doctors declared four of them as brought dead thereby raising the death toll to 16.
Later, the lone survivor was shifted to Jammu for specialized treatment in Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).
As news of the accident and subsequent deaths reached the village Mangota, the wailing relatives rushed to the District Hospital Doda to collect the bodies.
“After completing medical and legal formalities, the bodies of the deceased were handed over to family members for last rites”, SSP Doda Mumtaz Ahmed said, adding that the dead included four children and five women.
The deceased were identified as Irshad Ahmed, son of Abdul Majid of village Mangota, his baby, Firdous, son of Noor Mohammad of village Mangota, his son, Tabraiz, son of Mohammad Shokeen of village Mangota, Nasir, son of Irshad of village Mangota, Sameer, son of Abdul Wahid of village Mangota. Naseer, son of Ali Jaan of village Mangota, Jabina, wife of Mohammad Irshad of village Mangota, Tanveera, wife of Taimoor Ahmed of village Mangota, her two children, Rubiya, wife of Firdous Ahmed of village Mangota, Fiaz Mohammad, son of Rustam Wani of village Mangota, at present Dhansal in district Udhampur, his wife Shakoora Begum and Amina, wife of Mohammad Sayeed of village Mangota.
The lone survivor has been identified as Taimoor, son of Mohammad Akram Wani of village Mangota.
“A case under relevant sections has been registered at Doda Police Station and investigation started” SSP said.
“During preliminary investigation, it came to fore that the driver was talking on mobile phone when the accident took place, but the exact reason could be ascertained once the investigation is completed,” SSP Mumtaz Khan added.
Meanwhile, MoS PMO Dr Jitendra Singh has also expressed grief over the loss of lives in this accident.
In a condolence message, Dr Singh conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery of the injured person.
Congress leaders including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretary Ambika Soni and JKPCC President G A Mir have expressed great shock over loss of lives in the accident and conveyed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. They prayed for peace to the departed souls.
“This region has become death trap for thousands of people, who have died in these accidents and Government has friled to take corrective measures. My heart goes with the members of family, who have lost their near and dear ones,” said Azad.
Former Minister and ex-MLA Doda, Shakti Parihar has expressed shock and grief over the death of 16 people in Doda road accident and urged the authorities to take extra measures in checking the road mishaps especially in hilly belt of Jammu region.
He demanded all possible assistance to the kin of the deceased and has also appealed to LG to immediately release Rs 5 lakhs ex-gratia relief in favour of next of kins of the deceased.
Provincial president J&K National Conference Jammu Devender Singh Rana expressed grief and shock over deaths in a tragic road accident involving passenger vehicle.
He sought immediate release of ex-gratia to the next kith and kin of the deceased and free specialized medical treatment to the injured. Rana expressed solidarity with the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls.

No ex-gratia relief announced
The Government has failed to announce ex-gratia relief to the next of kin of the deceased killed in accident near Khellani in district Doda today.
When SP Malik was Governor of J&K, he had announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of deceased killed in major accidents during his tenure.

Lone survivor loses wife, two sons
As the lone survivor of this tragic road accident is struggling for his life in Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Jammu, his family members are wailing over the death of his wife and two children.
Taimoor was the lone survivor in today’s tragic road accident, which claimed lives of 16 persons including wife of Taimoor namely Tanveera and his two minor sons.