Kashmir Valley Remains Cut-Off For 2nd Day

Vehicles stranded on Kashmir highway – File Pic

SRINAGAR – The Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only all weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, remained closed for the second day on Thursday, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded in biting cold.

Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir and historic 86-km-long Mughal road remained closed for the past 23 days due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition due to below freezing temperature.

The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed since yesterday due to fresh landslides and shooting stones at Digal and Chanderkote, a traffic police official said.

He said there were landslides at Digdol late Tuesday night forcing suspension of traffic on the highway. However, he said, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), responsible for maintenance and widening of the highway, immediately pressed into service sophisticated machines and men and cleared the landslides. He said traffic was restored after three hours and stranded vehicles were allowed to move towards their respective destinations.

He said it was decided to allow one-way traffic from Srinagar to Jammu only on Wednesday. However, there were fresh landslides and shooting stones at Digdol and Chanderkote, he said, adding traffic was again suspended on the highway.

He said due to continued shooting stones at Digdol, road clearance operation was stopped last night. The landslides and shooting stone clearance operation was again resumed this morning, he said.

He said once the landslide clearance operation is over, stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their respective destinations. “No fresh vehicle will be allowed from Srinagar and Jammu,” he added.

Meanwhile, drivers and passengers, stranded on this side of the Jawahar tunnel, alleged that traffic police was deliberately harassing people. “We were informed that road is open and we can move towards Jammu,” they said, adding but later we were stopped at Qazigund and other places.

They questioned why traffic police could not inform them in Srinagar about the status of the road. “Passengers, including women, children and elderly persons, are without any food and shelter since yesterday,” they alleged.

However, a senior traffic police official denied the allegations and said allowing traffic movement during shooting stones was dangerous. “Traffic was being suspended as a precautionary measure to avoid any accident,” he said and appealed to people to cooperate.

People are requested to contact Traffic Control Units (TCUs) at Srinagar, Jammu and Ramban. He said only stranded vehicles, particularly between Ramban and Ramsu, will be allowed to move on priority since there is a forecast for more rain and snow during the next 24 hours.

Traffic official said the 434-km-long national highway, the only road linking UT Ladakh with Kashmir, also remained closed for the past 23 days on Thursday due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. The road has become very slippery due to below freezing temperature, particularly at Zojila pass.

Meanwhile, due to slippery conditions after freezing of snow water, there is also no chance of resumption of traffic on the historic Mughal and Anantnag-Kishtwar roads during winter. Traffic on the Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region, was closed on December 11 due to heavy snowfall, particularly at Pir-ki-Gali, they said.

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