J&K Reasi terror attack: Bus owner demands martyr status for driver, conductor

Combing operations resume in the area

Army personnel during a search operation after a bus carrying pilgrims was ambushed by terrorists, in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir | PTI Army personnel during a search operation after a bus carrying pilgrims was ambushed by terrorists, in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir | PTI

Two days after the Reasi terrorist attack, the owner of the private bus carrying the pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra demanded martyr status for the driver and conductor for averting a massive catastrophe. 

The bus carrying pilgrims from, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi plunged into a deep gorge, killing nine people, after an ambush by terrorists. 

Sujan Singh, the owner of the bus, also sought the government to increase the security along the stretch and also highlighted the need to take care of the poor families of the victims. 

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Driver Vijay Kumar (40) and conductor Arun Kumar (19) were among those killed in the ambush. Their bodies were cremated in Dasanoo-Rajbagh and Kandera-Katra, their respective villages. 

"Vijay was like a family to me, the gentlest, and always smiling. He had been working with me for about six years and I believe that he deliberately plunged the vehicle into the gorge instead of stopping it on the road to allow terrorists to kill all its occupants. A major catastrophe was thus averted," Singh told PTI in Katra.

Singh said Arun, who is from a poor family, had just joined the transport company a few days before the attack. 

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Reportedly, the driver was first shot first which led to the bus losing control and plunging into a gorge. According to officials, the driver and the conductor had multiple bullet injuries.

The J&K Administration has already announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to each injured.

Singh also said that the incident had struck fear in the driver community and the government must ensure their safety on the route which passes through a dangerous area. 

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Azad Party district president Bishan Sharma pinned the terrorist attack on "security failure" by the administration. He demanded Rs 25 lakh each in compensation to the two civilian victims, a government job each and free education for the two children of the driver.

Also, the combing operation has entered the second day, with 11 teams of security personnel working on the ground. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) team also joined the operation and scanned the area for leads, they said.

In the wake of the incident, high alert has been sounded in Jammu and Rajouri districts. Around 20 people were detained for questioning by the investigation team.

Of the 41 people injured in the attack, 10 sustained bullet wounds. As many as 11 bullet marks were found at various places on the bus, the officials said.

(With PTI inputs)

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