Rashly driven vehicle was already challaned many times
* 3-member Committee to inquire reasons behind accident
Sanjeev K Sharma
JAMMU, Nov 15: In a tragic road accident, 39 people lost their lives while 17 others were injured, some of them critically, when the bus they were on board fell in a deep gorge allegedly due to rash and negligent driving in the mountainous Doda district today.
The accident took place at Trangul near Assar in Doda at about 11.30 am and is one among the bloodiest mishaps that took place across the country claiming a large number of innocent lives.
As the bus fell into the gorge, there was a loud thud and all the vehicles plying on the road and the pedestrians were frightened but when they came to know what actually has happened, they moved towards the accident site.
Some people started calling police at the dedicated helpline number 100 while others cried for help to the victims of accident.
There were murmurs in the crowd gathered at the accident spot wherein many people were saying that corruption is responsible for not checking rash driving in the area which results in tragic accidents.
The ill fated bus bearing registration number JK02CN-6555 was on its way to Jammu from Kishtwar.
Immediately after the accident, locals along with police and Army personnel swung into action and started rescue operation.
When contacted, SSP Doda, Abdul Qayoon said that 39 passengers in the bus including the driver and cleaner were killed while 17 others were injured and the vehicle was carrying a total of 56 passengers.
“All bodies from the accident hit vehicle have been retrieved. Investigations are underway to ascertain the exact reasons for accident but prima facie negligent driving seems to be the cause,” SSP Doda said adding that critically injured passengers were shifted to Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu.
He further said that the vehicle has already been Challaned many times and its permit was also due though condition of the vehicle was good and it was a 2020 model bus.
“Police has established Nakas and checkpoints to monitor rash driving but still there are certain stretches where cops are not present and the present was one such spot,” the SSP informed.
He further said that some more passengers boarded the bus from the stretch between Baggar and Assar where cops were not present.
DC Doda Harvinder Singh said that seven injured were airlifted to GMC Jammu of which three have succumbed to their injuries.
DC Doda and SSP Doda along with other officers personally supervised the rescue operation.
Among the deceased were 10 women and it was Bhaiya Dooj festival today during which sisters apply vermilion mixed with flower petals over the forehead of their brothers.
Many of the slain ladies are believed to be travelling to their brothers for Bhaiya Dooj celebrations.
The accident also claimed lives of some minors leaving their families dejected and in utter grief.
It is pertinent to mention here that hilly areas of J&K especially Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar districts are notorious for road accidents the main reason for which remains rash driving and vehicles being in poor condition.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar has constituted a Committee comprising Dr. Ravi Kumar Bharti, ADM Doda; Superintending Engineer PWD Doda and ARTO Doda to enquire into the circumstances leading to the tragic accident.
The Committee shall enquire into the incident and furnish a detailed enquiry report to the office of Divisional Commissioner Jammu within a week.
Meanwhile, J&K Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, took stock of measures taken by the District and Divisional administrations regarding rescue and relief activities.
He called for looking into all the causes that could have resulted into the incident and made out that the administration would make every effort for plugging the loopholes identified by investigation.
Eyewitness says bus was in high speed
An eye-witness who narrowly escaped the tragic bus accident at Trangul in Doda informed that he sat in the ill fated bus from Pul Doda to reach Jammu but a friend who was travelling in another bus asked him to join him in his bus for journey to Jammu.
“At that time I had no idea that how lucky was I as the bus I boarded earlier met with an accident after sometime,” Devinder Singh, 46, who was coming to Jammu to join his duty informed.
“The bus which met with accident was moving ahead of our vehicle with a very high speed,” Singh said.
He said that the ill fated bus was rashly driven and due to high speed of the vehicle the driver lost control over it after which it landed in a deep gorge leaving many passengers dead and injured.
Singh also said that his bus stopped at Trangul as it was a thick traffic-jam there due to the accident and he saw a big crowd of people there and ambulances rushing to the spot.
“All were crying for help to the accident victims in the bus,” Singh maintained adding that the people were condemning the authorities concerned for lack of control over rashly driven passenger vehicles in the area which mostly results in such accidents.
Dead & injured
Dead:- Raviti Devi, resident of Assar; Vishu Thakur, resident of Assar; Chuni Lal, resident of Assar; Davinder Singh, resident of Prem Nagar; Ashu Parihar, resident of Kishtwar; Renuka Parihar, resident of Kishtwar; Raghu Nath, resident of Kishtwar; Saksham Parihar, resident of Kishtwar; Shakeel Ahmed (driver), resident of Doda; Hemanshu Raina, resident of Bhaderwah; Rita Devi, resident of Doda; Subash Chander, resident of Kishtwar; Javad Ahmad, resident of Udhampur; Rajesh Kumar, resident of Kishtwar; Nizam Din, resident of Bihar; Swarna Devi, resident of Doda; Bhagwan Singh, resident of Doda; Ratna Devi, resident of Kishtwar; Md Azad, resident of Bihar; Mohd Yousif, resident of Kathua; Dharminder Saghal, resident of Ramban; Anuradha, resident of Doda; Jasveer, resident of Bhalessa; Simran Devi, resident of Kishtwar; Suresh Kumar Karsh, resident of Chhattisgarh; Nadeem, resident of Ikra, UP; Dilshad, resident of Muzaffarnagar, UP; Mohd, son of Ramjani Miya, resident of Bihar; Roshan Lal, resident of Assar; Munish Kumar, resident of Kishtwar; Arun Kumar, resident of Kishtwar; Etwari Devi, resident of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh; Aigiya Bai, resident of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh; Rangeel Singh, resident of Kishtwar (Bus Cleaner); Sunil Manhas, resident of Doda; Bishan Lal, resident of Kishtwar and two persons could not be identified till last reports.
Injured: Roshni Devi, resident of Kishtwar; Chander Kumar, resident of Kishtwar; Shashi Kumar, resident of Charalla; Ayan, resident of Talab Tillo, Jammu; Arushi, resident of Udhampur; Keyan Shan, resident of Kishtwar; one unidentified baby; one unknown male; Sorab Kumar, resident of Dool; one unidentified baby of 1.5 years of age; Rikshim, resident of Kishtwar; Ranjeet Kumar, resident of Motipur, UP; Sojal Kumar, resident of Assar; one unidentified male; Chander Kumar, resident of Chhattisgarh; Dilip Kumar, resident of Bihar; Mohd Imran, resident of Bihar and Rekha Devi, resident of Barshalla.
LG announces ex gratia
Prez, PM, others express shock over bus accident
President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed shock and sadness over a bus accident in Doda.
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“I am deeply saddened by the news of the unfortunate death of several passengers in a bus accident in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. I express my condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured,” Murmu said in a post in Hindi on X, formerly Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the bus accident was distressing. “My condolences to the families who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest,” Modi said on X.
He announced that an ex gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh each would be given to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also expressed anguish over the tragic bus accident.
“Deeply anguished to learn about the loss of precious lives due to a tragic bus accident in Doda. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and prayers for speedy recovery of the injured,” Shah wrote on X.
Union MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, Lok Sabha MP from Doda, spoke to DC Doda Harvinder Singh and said all possible help is being provided to the families of dead and those injured. “Sincere condolences to the bereaved families,” he said.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has expressed condolences over the loss of lives.
“Extremely pained by the loss of lives in a tragic bus accident in Assar, Doda. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved families & wishing for a speedy recovery of those injured in the accident. Directed Div Com & Dist Admin to provide all necessary assistance to affected persons,” Sinha posted on X.
Sinha announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for next of kin of dead and Rs 1 lakh for the injured beside every possible assistance.
Chronology of accidents in Doda
This is probably the biggest accident in Doda district during the last few years.
On July 1, 2019, 35 people were killed and 17 injured when an overloaded mini-bus veered off the road and fell into a gorge in Kishtwar’s Sirgwari area.
On October 6, 2018, 21 people were killed and 15 injured when an overcrowded mini-bus fell into a 200-foot gorge after its driver lost control over the vehicle on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, near Kela Morh, in Ramban district.
On September 14, 2022, 11 people, including four women, died and 29 were injured when an overcrowded mini-bus plunged into a gorge in Poonch district.
On September 14, 2018, 17 passengers were killed and 16 injured when a mini-bus skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge in the Dandaran area of Kishtwar district.
On May 30, 2023, 10 Vaishno Devi pilgrims, most of them from Bihar, were killed and 57 injured as their bus skidded off the road and rammed into the railing of a bridge, before falling off it at Jhajjar Kotli in Jammu district.
On May 24 this year, seven people were killed and three injured after a cruiser vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a gorge at the Dangduru dam site in the Dachhan area of Kishtwar.
Eight people were killed and three seriously injured when their car skidded off the road and plunged into a 300-foot gorge in Kishtwar on August 30.
On June 27, five people were killed and 12 injured when their vehicle fell into a gorge on the Bhadarweh-Pathankot road in Doda.
Four people, including women, were killed and five injured after a car fell into a roadside gorge at Thannamandi in Rajouri district.
Six people were killed in road accidents in Doda on October 8 and October 20.
On November 6, three people were killed and at least 16 injured in a road accident in the Rehan area of Rajouri district, officials said.