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Udhampur attack: I am not going to drive on this road again, says truck driver

While Zahid Ahmad Bhat, 20, who worked as the conductor, died on Sunday, the other injured, Showkat Ahmad, is still undergoing treatment in New Delhi. Rameez recalls the night of the attack.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
October 20, 2015 1:48:29 am
udhampur attack, j&k attack, jammu attack, J&K news, kashmir news, india news, kashmir truck attack, udhampur truck attack, latest news Ahmad along with other truck driver was set ablaze by a mob on the Srinagar Jammu national highway at Udhampur on October 9. (Source: Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Rameez Ahmad Bhat, 26, was driving the truck that was attacked in Udhampur on October 9. While Zahid Ahmad Bhat, 20, who worked as the conductor, died on Sunday, the other injured, Showkat Ahmad, is still undergoing treatment in New Delhi. Speaking to Bashaarat Masood, Rameez recalls the night of the attack.

It was my last trip on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. I am not going to drive on this road again. In fact, I am not going to drive a truck anymore.

We had loaded our truck with coal at Madhopur in Punjab, before leaving for Kashmir. Zahid was excited… we had already started planning our next trip… We stopped at Narwal bypass in Jammu and had tea from a roadside stall. Showkat soon fell asleep. I switched off the cabin lights. Zahid was silent as he listened to music.

It was around 10:30 pm. As we were passing through Udhampur city, two men asked us to stop. When I stopped the truck, they shouted: “Haan, Kashmiri hi hain (Yes, they are Kashmiris)”.

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Suddenly, a group of men appeared — I could see 8-10 men. They first threw stones at our vehicle, and then threw petrol bombs. I lost control of the truck. It skidded and hit an electric pole. I jumped out.

The truck was burning, I watched the flames from a distance. The men left immediately after the attack.

While jumping out of the vehicle, I had left my cellphone behind. I gathered courage and returned to the truck. I couldn’t find Zahid or Showkat. I didn’t know what had happened to them. All I knew was that Showkat was sleeping. I thought they had managed to escape.

I got some water and doused the flames. About 8-10 minutes later, a policemen arrived at the spot. I managed to locate Zahid, who was at a nearby restaurant. He had suffered burns. I couldn’t bear to look at him. It was the restaurant owner who had informed the police. I then went to look for Showkat. He was lying on the ground, several metres away, his body also burnt.

The police took Zahid and Showkat to a hospital in Udhampur, and later shifted them to Jammu. I accompanied them when they were taken to Delhi for treatment. I returned with Zahid’s body. I have lost a neighbour, a friend.
I was a frequent traveller on this road. But now, I am scared… It is the fruit season in the Valley, but the truck drivers from our village are not going anywhere. Nobody wants to lose his life.

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