This time, unlike people hearing about a vehicle falling in a gorge on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, news came from Pahalgam where a police bus carrying several ITBP personnel along with a few J&K police cops fell into a gorge near Chandanwari as the bus was heading towards Pahalgam. The accident killed 7 ITBP personnel while more than 35 others on the bus were left injured. The injured are undergoing treatment and the officials reached the hospital to inquire about their health. Same story; nothing new; but what about those who lost their lives? Who is going to be responsible for such an accident, because something might have caused it, isn’t it? Or we are just to be told that “accidents happen,” and if that turns out to be the case then May Lord have mercy on us!
If the details, that have so far emerged, are to be believed, then the vehicle—a police bus, carrying the forces personnel—was quite old and despite being old, we ask: how was it still in use and who authorized the use of the same on the terrain like that of Pahalgam, Chandanwari and that too with almost full capacity? The spot where the accident took place is also said to be quite dangerous because of its sharp change in direction: why were not the necessary steps taken in the first place by the authorities despite knowing that the spot was dangerous and keeping in view the callousness of the authorities, were not the lives of the security personnel put to risk, deliberately—a risk which took the lives of 7 of them?
We will not talk about the efficiency of the road infrastructure across J&K, especially in Kashmir, as it is already in shambles, however, we will not stop asking questions about what led to such an accident because it could have turned out to be more tragic where the lives of most of the personnel could have been lost. We will not wait for that to happen and won’t let the administration put the matter into cold storage either. To fix the responsibility, the administration must order a probe to ascertain the circumstances that led to the accident. Directions must be issued for carrying out a safety audit of the vehicles which are in use for the security personnel in the UT, be it J&K police, CRPF, ITBP, or for that matter, the army. The old vehicles must go once and for all; for the travel to the hilly areas, the concerned needs to devise an action plan to ensure such incidents are not seen getting repeated at any cost.