Finding culprits of Murree incident

By: Asem Mustafa Awan

The five-member committee has given its findings and local administration was found responsible for loss of 23 lives. The roads were closed late and there was no official present to guide the people who got stuck for hours with their infants and young ones inside their vehicles.

The body formed for making the probe has done extensive work in pin pointing the catastrophe as how it happened. The fault lies with the local administration failing to respond timely to stormy weather despite prior forecast by the relevant department of the federal government. Not just that but the people at the helm of affairs at the local level were never in touch with the Rawalpindi or Islamabad administrations from where the tourists were heading to Murree in excess of capacity at the congested hilly resort. Therefore, the local administration was rather in celebration mode because tourist rush means big money rushing to the town. That is why perhaps, the report highlights that the snow removing machinery and drivers were altogether missing from scene on the day when it happened on January 7 and 8. The departments responsible for facilitating tourists as in local administration were nowhere to be found. Chaos followed with crowd in thousands move from one point to the other in quest for safety.

In absence of any official on duty, the private owners of hotels, parking places and other facilities took it as chance to exploit tourists stuck in snow and panic. Resultantly exorbitant prices’ forced many of the tourists to spend night inside the vehicle instead of costlier hotels and other places of accommodation available for rent. Thus capitalizing on the tourist misery forced people to spend the cold and snowy night in their cars resulting in their sad demise.

The gravity of the incident could have been averted if the people responsible for looking after the place on tax payer’s money acted timely. The report pointed out at the gross negligence as despite the weather warnings issued from the local metrological office there was no planning done. The snow removing machinery had no diesel and the staff deputed for snow clearing was nowhere in sight. The committee also pointed out at the illegal encroachments besides people making deliberate blockages to stop the traffic flow.

Thousands of vehicles stuck in snow had no rescue in sight for over 24 hours. People bought their safety for prices that were colossal and it is also on record many women gave away their gold for buying room and heating for their young ones.

The tragic night out for those who were not having the money owing to the Murree’s greedy hoteliers, made headlines and their dead bodies mostly infants moved the nation. There is snowfall prediction again as off now and the hoteliers have come out calling the tourists to visit Murree again but the lessons learned will take time to be erased for nation’s memory as the locals have made it a point to fleece anyone and everyone who sets the foot on their domain.

The writer is Special Correspondent at The Dayspring