Press Trust of india

Two found dead inside stranded vehicle at Banihal

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Ramban admin urges passengers to avail lodging facilities, avoid traveling without road

Banihal/Jammu: Two persons were found dead inside a load carrier at Banihal along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which remained closed for vehicular traffic for the second day on Sunday following snowfall, officials said.

Shabir Ahmad Mir (22) and Majid Gulzar Mir (30), both residents of Kralpora village of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, were on way to Srinagar but left stranded after snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel forced closure of the highway early Saturday, the officials said.

They said the duo was found unconscious inside their vehicle this morning and was rushed to a nearby hospital, where both of them were declared brought dead.

It was not immediately clear whether they died of severe cold or asphyxiation, the officials said, adding that it was reported that they had kept heater switched on for warmth during the night.

The death of the duo sparked violent protests by drivers and their co-passengers at Railway Chowk Banihal.

Senior police and civil officers rushed to the spot along with reinforcements and managed to bring the situation under control after chasing away a stone-pelting mob, the officials said.

Holding the government responsible for the death of the duo, the protesters alleged that the government should have allowed the stranded vehicles through the recently-completed Banihal-Qazigund tunnel.

Meanwhile, the Ramban administration has issued strict guidelines in the wake of the event. The advisory was issued to ensure safety of passengers travelling on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and those who are stranded due to any road blockade, an official report said.

The District Administration Ramban has urged commuters to confirm the status of the road from the Traffic Police Control Room before starting the journey. The commuters have also been advised to avail the facilities of Rahat Centres, Shelter Sheds which have been set up at various places en-route National Highway in district Ramban in case of inclement weather or suspension of traffic.

As per the District Administration, the shelter sheds are functional at Ramban, Ramsoo and Banihal which the passengers can use in case of suspension of traffic. More shelter sheds would be established/made operational/ in near future to facilitate the passengers, the district administration said.

The SDMs have also been directed to ensure adequate accommodation for stranded passengers.

The administration has also given cell phone numbers for those stranded on the road and in need of any assistance. “In case of any emergency, which may arise due to suspension of traffic, the passengers can contact the following numbers – 01998-266789; 9419174902 (SDM Ramsoo); 9596996193 (SDM Banihal) and 9419161809 (Tehsildar Ramban),” the advisory said adding that the passengers who travel from Nashri to Doda on NH-244, may contact Tehsildar Batote on 9906272786, in case of emergency.

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