On November 15, 2023, a bus carrying 55 passengers met with an accident in the region of Doda in Jammu and Kashmir. The bus, travelling from Kishtwar to Jammu, veered off the Batote-Kishtwar national highway near Trungal-Assar and plunged a 300 feet into a gorge. The aftermath was 36 people dead and 19 others injured.
The Jammu Divisional Commissioner, Ramesh Kumar, provided details of the incident, stating that the bus lost control and skidded off the road, leading to the plunge.
Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, who expressed sorrow over the incident, shared updates from the ground, confirming the toll.
Out of the 19 injured, six were reported to be in serious condition. Dr. Singh assured that the injured were being shifted to government hospitals in Doda and Kishtwar for medical attention.
Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh announced the arrangement of a helicopter service to airlift the injured. This move aimed to prompt transportation to medical facilities, the government’s commitment to providing all necessary help to those affected by the accident.
The news spread through the political spectrum, condolences from President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
President Murmu conveyed her sadness over the loss of several lives and sympathies to the families. Prime Minister Modi, acknowledging the nature of the accident, expressed condolences and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured.
As a gesture of support, the Prime Minister’s Office declared an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the next of each deceased victim. Additionally, a financial assistance of ₹50,000 was announced for each person injured in the accident.
The Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, expressed sorrow and condolences to the families.
Sinha, pained by the loss of lives, directed the Divisional Commissioner and District Administration to provide all necessary assistance to the affected individuals.
The incident happened on a remote mountain road in the Doda area, approximately 200 kilometers southeast of Srinagar, the region’s main city.
Harvinder Singh, a civil administrator, reported that the bus, with a capacity of 42 passengers, rolled down a steep slope, causing the loss of 30 lives.
Singh attributed the accident to the driver’s negligence, stating that the driver hit the crash bar of the road.
Police officer Sunil Gupta confirmed that the death toll could be higher, with more than 25 people injured, at least 10 of them critically.
The injured were transported to nearby health facilities, with those in critical condition being transferred to a hospital in Jammu.
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, expressed his worries over the incident and pledged government compensation.
He offered condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and prayed for the recovery of the injured.
The compensation package included more than $2,400 for the next of the deceased and $600 for those injured. Home Minister Amit Shah joined in expressing deep anguish over the loss of lives.
He assured that local administration, including rescue operations in the gorge where the bus had the accident, was actively engaged in managing the aftermath.
This incident once again brings attention to the road safety challenges in India. The country has been struggling with one of the highest road death rates globally, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost and injured annually.
Reckless driving, poorly maintained roads, and aging vehicles are often cited as contributing factors to such accidents.
The accident in Doda follows a pattern seen in previous incidents, where buses, a popular mode of transport, become involved in accidents due to various reasons, including overloading and operator negligence.
The need for enforcement of safety regulations and improved infrastructure becomes evident in such incidents.
While rescue operations were underway, videos and images from the site depicted a scene of wreckage and rescue personnel working to assist the injured.
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