Over 2,000 Kashmir-bound passengers stranded in Jammu

January 9th, 2012 - 12:40 am ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Jan 8 (IANS) More than 2,000 Kashmir Valley-bound passengers were stranded in Jammu Sunday because of the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway since the past two days after heavy snowfall and rain lashed the state.Landslides and slippery portions have forced the closure of the 294-km highway, the lifeline of the Valley as it is the only road linking it to the rest of the world.

Stranded passengers, most of them at Jammu’s general bus stand, have been facing hardships in the bitter cold since Friday’s snowfall.

Abdul Rehman of Shopian was supposed to leave for Srinagar Friday but got stranded along with his younger brother Mohammad Shafi, both of them farmers.

“No one is paying attention to us, we have been left at the mercy of the almighty in these severe wintry conditions and we are at the verge of running out of our money,” said Rehman.

He said there was no male family member back home to look after the others.

Most of the stranded passengers were upset about the lack of communication on the highway’s condition.

“There is no deadline for the opening of the highway, all we are being told by everyone is that efforts are on to clear snow from the road,” said Ghulam Rasool of Magam area of central Kashmir district of Budgam.

The authorities claimed that the Border Roads Organisation was working to clear the highway. The road was buried under three-four feet of snow near Jawahar Tunnel, there was also snow at Banihal and Patnitop. The snow clearing machines were working round-the-clock but bad weather was hampering the work.

“Our first priority is to clear the vehicles and passengers stranded on the highway itself,” said Sanjeev Verma, deputy commissioner of Jammu. He also assured the stranded passengers here that they would be able to leave for their destinations once the highway was ready.

Chief Minister’s Political Advisor Devinder Singh Rana visited the stranded passengers and announced that they would be ferried free of cost to the Valley in state road transport corporation buses.

“Until the road is cleared, the stranded passengers would be provided free food,” Rana said.

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