Jammu: Believe it or not but “Highway Authority of India” (NHAI) has closed the Chenani-Nashri tunnel for even critically ill-patients and more so for dead bodies being carried through the tunnel since they believe it would be inauspicious to allow dead bodies and ill-patients to cross the tunnel.
“It is considered a bad omen to allow dead bodies to pass through a tunnel where Pooja is to be performed before the inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We can allow some of the critically ill-patients but dead bodies are strictly prohibited to be allowed through the tunnel,” said an official of the NHAI at the tunnel pleading anonymity.
He added that the 9 kilometre long tunnel is ready for traffic but won’t be thrown open till Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not inaugurate it on April 2. “People have been carrying critical patients as well as dead bodies through the old road since the last many years, what difference would it make if they do it for some more days,” added the official. He accepted that some of the critically ill patients belonging to a particular community were allowed but dead bodies are strictly prohibited to be allowed through this tunnel.
On being asked, Project Director MT Attarde said “There is no such thing like bad or good omen. The tunnel has been closed since some sanitation work is pending.” However he did not explain reasons for not allowing critically ill-patients and dead bodies to be carried through the tunnel to ensure that the family members are saved from travelling 41 kilometres long and dangerous Chenani-Batote highway. “Police has now taken over,” Attarde informed.
He also did not explain reasons behind allowing the passage of vehicles belonging to the police officers, relatives and friends of officers of the twin districts of Ramban and Udhampur. “I don’t know anything about this. The tunnel will be open for traffic only after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates it. That is all,” said Attarde. However, eyewitnesses said that the police officers as well as Deputy Commissioners of Ramban and Udhampur have been managing to get their acquaintances and friends take a leisure ride through the tunnel.
The Facebook is splashed with photographs inside the tunnel, something which has been completely banned by the NHAI. “Pictures are on the Facebook even of the places inside the tunnel which have strategic and security importance. Critically ill patients and dead bodies have been banned since they are inauspicious while leisure rides are allowed. This is pathetic and speaks in volumes about how the state government has failed to keep a track of NHAI,” said one Mohammed Iqbal, who was disallowed to carry is father’s dead body through the tunnel.
The guard strictly told me that dead bodies are inauspicious and hence, won’t be allowed through this tunnel which is to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Iqbal who lives in Bhalla area of Bhaderwah. Another individual Javed Ahmed added “I rang up SSP Udhampur Shaliender Mishra who said that the tunnel has been handed over to SSG. DGP S.P.Vaid paid no heed to my SMS wherein I had clearly mentioned that I was carrying a dead body and needed help.”
Not only this, even my relatives who were coming from Kashmir were charged Rs. 2000 for being allowed to cross the tunnel at an odd time, said Javed. He said “Some DySP categorically said over phone that till the time, he does not get a green signal from four traffic headquarters, he won’t allow even the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to go ahead. But then, within some minutes, my relatives rang me up telling me that they had paid Rs. 2000 and were then allowed to pass.”
If the dead are not spared in this state, you can imagine how those alive are living here, said Javed while adding that state has failed to come upto the expectations of the people. It needs to be mentioned here that 9 kilometre long Chenani-Nashri tunnel is set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 2. SSG is yet to take over the tunnel for PM’s visit while Udhampur police has been deployed at the tunnel.