Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir highway remained closed on Tuesday, entering the seventh consecutive day that its been shut to the general public. Authorities tried to restore it by removing the debris of the landslide, but to no avail.
“The landslide at Marog in Ramban-Ramsoo sector has been almost cleared. But two fresh landslides have occurred in the sector during the night. However, they are small ones and would be cleared soon. We are hopeful of opening the highway by today afternoon. Till an announcement is made that the road is safe for travel, intending travellers are advised not to start the journey without contacting our control rooms in Jammu and Srinagar,” a traffic official stated.
According to reports, senior state highway officials were at Marog in Ramban district to personally supervise the clearance operation and ensure that stranded passengers were provided shelter and food. Meanwhile, it has started raining in some areas along the road.
Over the past six days, more than 3,000 vehicles have been left stranded along the nearly 300-kilometre long road, creating a crisis in the Valley since many are carrying essential necessities.
This has led to a severe shortages of vegetables, poultry products, mutton and petroleum products. Authorities have rationed the supply of petroleum products owing to the current situation.
Following the closure of the highway on February 6, air travel fares have increased exponentially.
Many stranded on the highway bound toward the valley have started running short of money and have demanded special air sorties to reach their destination.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of the Hurriyat (M) on Monday said that the due to the closure of ‘natural routes of JK, people have been forced to depend on the ‘artificial Srinagar-Jammu highway’ which mostly remains closed due to adverse weather.
In a tweet, Mirwaiz said, ” Tens of thousands of Kashmiri’s are stranded in Jammu for past one week as the Srinagar Jammu highway is closed and few flights are operating on this sector. People are facing tremendous hardship as their recourses to support themselves are drying up and they are stranded. Their is no support in place for them from those who rule this place and they are left to fend for themselves.”
He added, “No additional flights or accommodation and food till they reach home is provided. It is incumbent upon those who have blocked our natural routes to outside world and made us solely dependent on this artificial route (Jammu Srinagar highway) mostly closed in winter due to weather vagaries, to take responsibility of the dire consequences that people of Kashmir have to face and at least provide them with relief and help till they reach home.”
Tensions were abound further after a video of college students of Jammu pelting stones at the stranded passengers circulated on social media. The incident took place at the Auqaf building in Jammu where the stranded passengers were staying.