Boat Tragedy

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Six people died and three others were missing after a boat carrying nearly two dozen people, including school children, from Gandbal to Batwara, capsized in the Jhelum river here on Tuesday.

The dead included a 35-year-old woman and her two school going twins.

District Magistrate Srinagar Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat said they are ascertaining as to how many people were exactly onboard.

“As far as initial input, 15 people were travelling in the boat, and out of them, seven were minors and the rest were adults. Since morning, we have fished out 12 people from the river, and six of them unfortunately died in the incident,” Bhat told reporters near the tragedy site.

He said that three are being treated in the hospital and are stable.

“Three people, including two children, are still missing,” Bhat said.

Search and rescue operations by several agencies, including the State Disaster Response Force, are underway to locate the missing eople. The Army’s elite Marine Commandos (MARCOS) have also been alerted.

Doodnath, a resident of Uttar Pradesh who was at the river bank, said he, along with his brother, rescued three people after the boat capsized.

“A rope was used to help the boat to cross the river snapped suddenly and I saw the boat hitting an iron pillar of the under construction bridge and it crashed into two parts. The passengers were calling for help. I, along with my brother rescued three people,” Doodnath claimed.

A pall of gloom descended on the area, with residents hitting out at the government for not constructing a bridge in the area.

“The footbridge bridge at Gandbal has been under construction for the last two decades. The locals were compelled to use boats to cross. If the bridge had been constructed in time, probably this incident could have been avoided,” fumed a local resident. The families of the deceased, especially women, were wailing after the bodies were brought home.

Kashmir has been witnessing incessant rain for the last two days, which has led to an increase in the water levels of several bodies, including Jhelum. This morning, Jhelum was flowing close to the flood alarm level in Srinagar.

Soon after the tragedy, J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said that he is constantly monitoring the situation.

“I am deeply grieved by the loss of lives due to a boat accident in Srinagar. My thoughts are with the bereaved families, and I pray to the Almighty to give them strength to withstand this immense loss. Teams of SDRF, Army, and other agencies are carrying out relief and rescue work,” Sinha said in a post on X.

He said the administration is providing all possible help to the bereaved families who have lost their near and dear ones and medical facilities to those who have been injured.

“Marcos teams have also been alerted. I am constantly monitoring the situation and guiding the team on the ground,” the Lt Governor added.

Several J&K politicians, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Lone, Altaf Bukhari, M Y Tarigami and Altaf Thakur, have expressed shock over the tragedy.

Two former Chief Ministers have demanded an inquiry into the incident and the delay in the

construction of the bridge in the area.

Kashmiri politicians cancel poll campaign
Several mainstream politicians in Kashmir on Tuesday cancelled their campaigning programme as a mark of respect to those killed in the Srinagar boat tragedy.

The National Conference leader and party candidate from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, Ruhullah Mehdi, announced that he would not carry out poll campaign for two days.

“This is a tragic day today for all of us and the bereaved families of the children who lost their lives in #Batwara. I cancel all my campaigning programs for today and tomorrow. Prayers for the angelic souls and the families of the deceased,” Ruhullah, an influential Shia leader from Budgam, posted on X.

Jammu And Kashmir People’s Conference headed by Sajad Lone asked party cadres and leaders to suspend all election-related activities.

“Out of respect for the families affected by the boat capsize tragedy today, JKPC cadres and leaders are directed to suspend all election-related activities. Our hearts are with those enduring this loss. We stand together with the affected families in support and solidarity,” JKPC posted on X.

Apni Party headed by Altaf Bukhari said there will be no political activity anywhere in the valley today.

“In the wake of the tragedy caused by the boat capsizing incident, Apni Party is postponing all its activities and events that were scheduled for today. The loss of precious lives, including those of children, in this fatal incident is a monumental tragedy for all of us, and we are grieving. Therefore, there will be no political activity anywhere in the valley today,” Apni party spokesman said.

Former Mayor of Srinagar and Apni Party leader, Junaid Mattu said that he cancelled all events and activities today in view of the deeply saddening loss of lives at Batwara.

“Unable to pull my mind away from the images and the absolutely heartbreaking loss..,” he posted on X.

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