‘Had bus not fallen into ditch… ‘: Survivor recalls Reasi horror

MEERUT: Survivors of Sunday’s terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district have shared chilling accounts of their ordeal. As terrorists unleashed a 15-minute barrage of gunfire on a bus carrying over 40 pilgrims, the vehicle plunged into a ditch, a twist of fate that likely saved many lives. The bus got stuck between a rock and a tree, preventing it from slipping further into the gorge, which would have resulted in a much higher death toll.
Pradeep Kumar, 38, a survivor from UP’s Meerut, described the harrowing experience.“Thank God that our bus fell into the gorge; otherwise, the attackers would have shot everyone dead,” he added.
Kumar, who works at a private telecom company, recounted how one of the attackers, dressed in Army fatigues, opened fire on the bus. “Amid the attack, the driver lost control of the bus, and we fell into a gorge. At this point, a few more attackers joined and started firing indiscriminately at us. The attackers stopped firing only when the passengers stopped screaming, believing everyone had died.”
He explained that the attack happened around 6pm after the bus left the Shivkhori temple. The bus was moving slowly on the hilly road, and most passengers were tired after trekking to Vaishno Devi, with many asleep.
Recalling his thoughts during the attack, Kumar said, “A few pilgrims sitting in front were awake when they saw an attacker approaching the bus. As the bus rolled down the ditch, I woke up to find everyone screaming. Any bullet could have hit me. I was thinking of my family, my three sons, aged 7, 9, and 11.”
Kumar, his brother Pawan Kumar, 28, and nephew Tarun Kumar, 24, were on a pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi shrine. Pawan sustained a severe injury to his left thigh, while Pradeep and Tarun survived with minor injuries.
Passersby alerted authorities, and a rescue operation ensued. The Army joined later, rushing the injured to three different hospitals.
Harpal Singh, Pradeep’s father, shared his anxiety: “We lost contact with my sons and grandson after the attack. We learned about the attack through TV and tried calling them, but the phones were unreachable. Later, we got a call saying they were safe.”
Talking to TOI, Meerut district magistrate Deepak Meena said, “We are in constant touch with the injured passengers, who are now stable. A team has been sent to bring them home safely. Some pilgrims are from Noida, and they will also be brought together. We are extending all possible support they need.”
Source : Times of India