Monday, 11 June 2012

Travel Blues (Part I) (Srinagar - Jammu)

RK Rishikesh Sinha

From the countless journeys that we undertake to travel from one place to another, some remains etched in our mind for various reasons — for being turned dangerous and fearsome, some becoming the theatre of human behaviour, and some just to brood over.

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One such travel that would have remained just a journey, in few hours of its beginning, turned dangerous. It was my journey from Kashmir to Jammu. The 300-Km long journey began early morning in the winter season from Panthachowk, a BSF transit camp in Kashmir. I was the only boy in the fully-occupied bus with officers sitting in the front and the rest seating according to rank. The bus was iron-fenced in the windows to thwart any attempt of grenade attacks by terrorist.

On time, the bus started and it was accompanied with more buses and trucks and all left the gate. Like disciplined ants, all the vehicles were one after another and were on the wheels. As far as I could see on the road, there were only government vehicles of many Forces. If something that was haunting me and all the passengers in the bus, it was to get caught in a terrorist attack or in a snowfall.

Though there was no terrorist attack, indeed snowfall took place that was feared most. After travelling for few hours, when the convoy reached Qazikund, heavy snowfall halted the convoy. The falling of cotton-like snow from sky which looks so beautiful, and which makes the surrounding picturesque and heavenly, would be so unsafe and risky, I had never known before.

There was another fear that was surfacing in my mind of becoming easy prey to terrorist attack since earlier in the same place and in the same situation a bomb explosion in a goods-carrying BSF truck had blown our trunks.

Snowfall didn’t stop for hours. The rise in the height of the snowfall had reached the windows of the bus. It was unimaginable to believe that the whole bus was beneath snow. From morning till evening, we haven’t moved an inch; had there been no snowfall, we would have been travelling in the serpentine roads of the Himalayas. But we remained there in the same position till evening, gummed to our seats; waiting for the snowfall to stop. The tension was becoming very visible in the faces of the passengers; despite it, there was calmness and discipline in the bus. There was a fear if the snowball continues few hours more we will be buried live in the snowfall. Luckily, snowfall stopped when it reached the top of the window. After few hours, the convoy started moving in a snail pace. We all reached Jammu safely early morning next day tired and exhausted. We would have reached Jammu in the same day at evening if there hadn’t been any snowfall.        
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