Katra bus tragedy needs prompt enquiry

There could be various reasons that could lead to a vehicle meeting with an accident on a road but the circumstances in which a passenger bus carrying Shri Mata Vaishnodevi pilgrims catching fire all of a sudden and as many as four pilgrims very unfortunately but tragically getting roasted alive and 24 others getting injured, some with serious burn injuries raises various types of questions. The ill fated bus is reported to have been on its way from Katra town to Jammu and immediately after it left Katra, it is reported to have caught fire at Kharmal or just one km away from Katra , all in mysterious conditions. The loss would have been more had it been the night hours or had the timely help from the locals not been around in rescuing and evacuating the trapped pilgrims.
The day temperature has been showing an upward trend but modern buses are having engines of latest and modern technology that virtually insolate the machinery from any impact of hot climate. However, reports that the fire started from the engine all of a sudden suggest the possibility of overheated engine having the self cooling mechanism collapsed or importantly any sort of sabotage too cannot be overlooked. That being precisely the job of the experts from the FSL and the police authorities to ascertain the reasons whether having been extraneous to engine and related technical issues. In any way, such accidents taking place and that too in this manner leaving behind a trail of death and injuries not to speak of complete damage to the bus is quite unfortunate and our heart goes to the families of those whose dear ones got consumed by this fire accident.
On many occasions, we have been seeing running cars catching fire all of a sudden and on busy roads, bringing the fire under control and evacuating the occupants becomes difficult especially in cases of automatic locking system of the cars. However, rarely is it heard that buses too can catch fire and that too all of a sudden and with so much a speed and with such a devastation on such an important route. It is unfortunate that even two days after the tragic accident , no developments about the likely causes of the bus getting ablaze is made known by the UT administration indicating perhaps that such investigation can take ”its own time”. We do not rule out the possibility of a bus catching fire normally near its engine but we have so far never heard the blaze spreading in seconds engulfing the entire bus trapping most of the passengers resulting in the tragic loss of four precious lives on the spot. So, our emphasis is on looking into these points with pointed thrust especially taking into consideration the route and the passengers being devotee pilgrims having returned from the Holy darshan and on way back home.
Another issue which we very often dwell upon is evolving a system of austere verification of passenger vehicles about their state and status of fitness to ply on roads, whether their engines have duly been serviced and whether fire fighting preliminary equipment in working condition is fitted at least at two places prominently visible, in a bus and that also on such an important route which is otherwise busiest and hilly as well, whether first aid box is there in the vehicle and whether Exit Emergency Door is kept clear to be used for such emergencies or is blocked by fitting a seat therewith to earn money. We want clarification on these points from the Department of Transport, Traffic Police, the District Administration and the Police authorities. The matter is serious as innocent human lives have perished while dozens are suffering with grievous burn injuries. What was the fault of the affected passengers may be made known if a fatalistic view of providential will is not employed as an excuse by the concerned authorities in the administration.