Sumo driver flees from spot, arrested
KATHUA, Feb 22: In a tragic road accident on Katli road, 150 kms from here in Malhar block of Tehsil Billawar in this district, nine passengers were killed and six others seriously injured when an overloaded private Tata Sumo rolled down into a deep gorge in Bhinni nullah near village Nelu this evening.
The ill fated Tata Sumo bearing Registration Number HP028B7030 was on way from Billawar to Malhar and after reaching Katli, the driver lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a sharp curve and it fell down into a deep gorge resulting in on spot death of seven persons and injury to eight others while two passengers later died in Billawar hospital taking the toll to nine.
The local people informed the police and rescue operation was launched to evacuate the injured persons and dead bodies from accident site. The injured were first brought to Sub District Hospital Billawar.
As per reports, the rescue team faced problems due to darkness in locating the injured persons and dead bodies.
The accident took place due to negligence of Sumo driver as reported by eye witnesses. They said that the driver of private Sumo lost control on the vehicle while negotiating a curve and it fell down in Bhinni nullah. Instead of a capacity of nine passengers including driver, the Sumo was carrying 15 passengers.
The driver of the Sumo identified as Naresh Kumar, 24, S/o Isher Dass R/o Lohai Malhar jumped from the vehicle after losing control over it and fled away. However, he was chased by the police and arrested. He has been lodged in the Police Station Billawar and case under relevant Sections of law was registered against him.
The dead were identified as Vishal of Nelu, Manzoor Ahmed of Daman, Nek Ram of Nelu, Veena Devi also of Nelu, Memo Devi of Daggar, Kuldeep Singh, Nisha Devi and Diksha, 7, all of Lakhri and Sunil Billoria, 42, S/o Babu Singh of Kalibari, Kathua.
Five injured persons were first admitted in Billawer Hospital and later referred to GMC Jammu in critical condition. They were identified as Manish, 5, S/o Kuldeep of Lakhri, Preeto Devi, 25, W/o Deep Singh also of Lakhri, Kartar , 26, S/o Shiv Ram of Neleu Malhar, Reva Devi, 22, W/o Kartar of Nelu, Kuldeep Kumar, 45, S/o Ishare Dass of Lohai. One injured passenger identified as Gonna ,45, W/o Shivram of Nelu Malhar is under going treatment in Billawar Hospital.
The seven dead bodies were lying on the accident site till last reports came in. Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, OP Bhagat said that medical teams with Ambulance was rushed to accident site soon after getting the information. The doctors’ team has been put on alert and medical aid was kept ready to provide immediate medical support. He issued directives to CMO, and BMO Billawar to give all possible medical help to injured persons. ADC Billawar, Sudesh Kumar is supervising the rescue operations.
SSP Traffic Rural, M L Kaith said that the Sumo was not a commercial vehicle but a private one and it was overloaded also. He said the driver was identified as Naresh Kumar, 24, S/o Isher Dass of Lohai Malhar in Kathua district. He was arrested by police.
Union Minister in PMO and MP Kathua -Udhampur and Doda Constituency, Dr Jitendra Singh expressed his profound grief and shock over the accident and loss of precious lives. He issued immediate instructions to authorities to provide special medical facilities to the injured. He also expressed his deep sympathy with bereaved families.
Ex Minister, Prem Sagar Aziz and ex MLA Bani Jeevan Lal expressed grief and sorrow over the tragic accident and showed their sympathies with bereaved families. They criticized the Health authorities for not making the Critical Care Ambulance available in such hilly areas having poor medicare facilities. They demanded the compensation of Rs five lakh to deceased families and Rs one lakh to injured families.