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In Jammu, stranded passengers rue Govt’s ‘apathy’

Srinagar, Jan 25: Accusing the government of failing to come to their rescue, the stranded passengers returning to the valley Friday urged the authorities to airlift them at an earliest.
Staging protest at Jammu bus stand, they raised slogans in favour of their demands.
They said that they have been suffering miserably for the last five days adding that nobody from the government visited them to enquire about the hardships they have been facing because of the closure of Jammu national highway.
“Nobody visited us. More than 15,000 people are stranded here. Among them many are poor, finding it difficult to manage their stay. They are running short of money. What is stopping the government from airlifting us,” said Shahnawaz Ahmad, a Srinagar resident over the phone from Jammu.
“We fail to understand why government is not making efforts to airlift us. Contradictory statements have been coming with regard to the opening of road. As per the recent reports, snow has accumulated at number of places on the highway, making it clear that the road will remain closed for a few more days,” Ahmad added.
The stranded passengers said that they have “spent all the money they carried.”
“From where will we get the money to purchase goods and pay the rent of the hotels,” another stranded passenger said.
“The shopkeepers are charging exorbitantly. They charge Rs 700 for a single bedroom which isn’t even worth Rs 300. Government should keep a check on profiteers,” he said.
Seeking Governor Satya Pal Malik’s intervention, the passengers said that special flights should be arranged for them.
“We urge the governor to take immediate steps for our airlifting. We have no money. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that we reach our destinations safely. It should ensure the early opening of the national highway,” said a female passenger.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma, said that they were “on the job”.
“The concerns raised by the stranded passengers would be addressed at an earliest,” he said.
Pertinently, Srinagar Jammu National highway has been closed for traffic from 21 January due to snowfall and landslides.
On January 22, a snow avalanche hit Jawahar tunnel, blocked both tubes resulting in the closure of tunnel for traffic.
According to traffic officials, almost 1500 vehicles are stranded due to closure of highway, the only road link to the valley.
“Traffic movement disrupted continuously for 5th day due to frequently shooting stones/landslides occurred in Ramban- Banihal stretch on Jammu Srinagar NHW. Therefore tomorrow on 26.01.19 only stranded vehicles shall be allowed after assessing weather/clearance road,” J&K Traffic Police updated on its official Twitter handle Friday evening.