Reasi attack: Bus owner demands martyr status for driver, conductor

08:21 AM Jun 12, 2024 | PTI |

Reasi: Sujan Singh, the owner of the private bus that was ambushed by terrorists in Reasi Sunday evening, has demanded the status of martyr for the driver Vijay Kumar and teenage conductor Arun Kumar for averting an even more terrible catastrophe by plunging the vehicle into a gorge to escape the raining bullets.


Singh also highlighted the need for taking care of the poor families of the victims and security on the Shiv Khori route, given the heavy pilgrim flow to the temple, which is over 80 km from Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra.

Besides the two locals, seven pilgrims – three men, three women, and a two-year-old boy – were killed and 41 others injured, when the terrorists opened fire at the 53-seater bus, on its way from Shiv Khori temple to Katra Sunday evening.

The attack forced the bus to veer off the road and fall into a deep gorge near the Teryath village of the Poni area of Reasi. The private bus was ferrying pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Delhi.

Bodies of both Vijay Kumar, 40, and his conductor Arun Kumar, 19, were cremated in Dasanoo-Rajbagh and Kandera-Katra, their respective villages, on Monday.


“Vijay was like a family to me, the gentlest, and always smiling. He had been working with me for about six years and I believe that he deliberately plunged the vehicle into the gorge instead of stopping it on the road to prevent terrorists from killing all its occupants. A major catastrophe was thus averted,” Singh told PTI in Katra.

According to officials and witnesses, the driver was the first to be hit by a bullet.

“His father Rattan Lal died over six months ago. To ensure that he returned home in the evening, I had asked him to drive on the Shiv Khori route instead of the Katra-Udhampur-Jammu road. He has (two) small children and there is nobody else in the family to see to their upbringing,” Singh said.

Arun, he said, had joined his transport company just a few days before the terror attack. “He was just 19 and the only brother of three sisters. This family is very poor.” The J-K Administration has already announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to each injured.

Demanding severe punishment for the terrorists involved in the attack, Singh said the incident has struck fear in the driver community and the government must ensure their safety on the route which passes through a dangerous area.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Azad Party district president Bishan Sharma termed the terrorist attack as a “security failure” and demanded Rs 25 lakh each in compensation to the two civilian victims, a government job each and free education for the two children of the driver.


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