In probably one of the worst pranks in Kashmir, the news of a private school bus meeting an accident went viral across the news websites, social media sites and other online platforms across Kashmir and elsewhere sending shockwaves. A Delhi based news outlet broke the news.
People from different parts of the valley started enquiring about the incident. Kashmir Life newsroom mobilized the reporters to get the details and independently rang up a number of senior officials including police, district and divisional administration to confirm the incident.
A number of officials while confirming the incident told Kashmir Life that the civil and police administration have been mobilized to reach the spot at a remote village of Rajouri district in Pir Panchal valley where according to the reports the incident had taken place.
After getting confirmation from various quarters Kashmir Life reported the accident.
A top police official said that since the village is in a remote part of Poonch district, “We are yet to ascertain the facts and get the firsthand details.” He however, confirmed that the accident has taken place.
Meanwhile, the divisional administration said that they have directed DC Shopian and DC Rajouri to reach the spot.
“The area is in a remote village. There is no internet and mobile network access. Therefore we are in a fix yet,” he said.
When Kashmir Life Shopian reporter talked to the district administration, he was told that the DC and a rescue team has actually left for the spot because the belt is closer to Pir Ki Gali.
The newsroom contacted police station Manjkot. The official said they have received the report of the incident and they have sent the rescue team. “We will tell you details as and when we know it,” the official said.
Then the newsroom got a report that the gorge is so deep that rescue will be really difficult. We were told that a senior bureaucrat was organizing the rescue. We contacted the Chief Minister’s office seeking reports if any chopper is being flown to help rescue. They said they will check and tell us.
However, when Kashmir Life received calls about the number of casualties in the accident, we again tried to contact the officials who didn’t respond. They had by then, probably, known that it was a prank.
Meanwhile, we contacted a source in Rajouri to know the number of deaths in the accident. He instantly said that nothing of the sort has happened anywhere along the Manjkote-Peer Ki Gali belt. He termed the reports as a mere rumour.
The incident perhaps shocked a Shopian based journalist most. He is the person who confirmed that it is a prank.
Aijaz Ahmad Dar is a journalist working with a Delhi based TV channel. He was near LoC with a team from his office for covering cross LoC tensions.
“We were returning and I spotted the bus in between Bafliaz and Peer Ki Gali,” said Aijaz whose voice was fluttering with the shock. “The news sent shivers down my spine as I got to learn that those kids who were taking selfies have met such a tragedy.”
Dar immediately rang a source in Bafliaz and asked him to reach immediately to the accident site. “He made three rounds from the spot but was not able to find anything,” Dar said.
I am sending you the pictures of the buses which are mentioned in the reports, he said. “I saw many ambulances coming and they all went back, there is no accident,” he said, before he started driving towards Pir Ki Gali on way back home.
Meanwhile, BMO Surankote, Dr Parvez Khan told Kashmir Life: “Our six ambulances have patrolled the area from Bufliaz to Peer Ki Gali and are now back,” he said, “No accident has taken place anywhere on the road.”
To mention, several news channels including local newspapers had dispatched their teams to the area to cover the incident.