SRINAGAR: The only surface link connecting occupied Kashmir with rest of the world remained shut for the second consecutive day as rains lashed the plains and snow was falling in the upper reaches. Srinagar and adjoining areas experienced the light snowfall, the first of the season in the morning. The snowfall preceded a prolonged dry spell resulting in severe cold wave conditions. Snow was falling heavily in tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam valley in the south. Weather office said 7 inch snowfall was recorded in Kokernag till 1500 hours while Pahalgam received 4 inch during the same period.
300 km long Srinagar-Jammu highway which was closed for the traffic due to heavy snowfall on Tuesday remained closed for the secon successive day Wednesday. Hundreds of vehicles carrying passengers and goods remained stranded at Banihal near 3.5 km long Jawahar Tunnel. Banihal had recorded 30 inches of snow till 1700 hours on Wednesday. A police source from Lower Munda told Kashmir Observer that around 400 vehicles mostly trucks carrying fruit were stuck in snow from Lower Munda to tunnel. Scores of small and big passenger vehicles too were stranded, he said.
Reports from the other side of the tunnel said police had erected barricades in highway village of Naugam in Banihal and were not allowing any vehicle to move forward. Around 1000 vehicles were stranded in the 140 km stretch of the road from Udhampur to Banihal. 200 of them were reportedly passenger vehicles and rest were carrying essential winter supplies like petrol, kerosene, LPG and food items.The Srinagar-Jammu road acts as tenuous lifeline for more than 10 million people of the Kashmir valley as the major all weather road connecting the valley with the Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir is inaccessible to daily travel due to strict restrictions.-SANA