At Qazigund, youth serve food to stranded truckers

Soon after the call is made, dozens of truckers make a beeline at a nearby community kitchen, set up alongside the road.

GULZAR BHAT
Qazigund, Publish Date: Feb 12 2019 12:59AM | Updated Date: Feb 12 2019 2:44AM
At Qazigund, youth serve food to stranded truckersRepresentational pic

“Lunch will be served in 10 minutes”. This is an announcement made on a loudspeaker fitted atop a van almost every day in Badragund, Qazigund area along the Srinagar-Jammu highway. This call—in Urdu and Kashmiri languages—is exclusively for stranded truckers and passengers, who are being provided with food by the local residents in a bid to “prevent them from dying of starvation”.

Soon after the call is made, dozens of truckers make a beeline at a nearby community kitchen, set up alongside the road.

A group of local youth in Qazigund, under the banner of ‘Rahat: A ray of hope’, has been serving meals to hundreds of truckers stuck along the 300-km-long highway following its closure due to snowfall and rains.

“We provide them with lunch and dinner and some packets carrying milk pouches, bread and biscuits every day,” said Ishrat Rashid alias Lali Khan, who supervises the voluntary pursuit. 

Despite the frosty weather conditions, 12 young men in the group start their work early in the morning. 

While seven of them prepare the meals, five others serve them later. 

“We are also being helped by many other local residents in the vicinity,” Khan told Greater Kashmir on Monday.

He said they serve food to around 1200 truckers, both local and non-local, every day.

Secretary of all traders’ association Qazigund, WaniMuzaffar, said the local business community has also decided to help the stranded people.

“We have set up a free kitchen and will start serving food there from Tuesday,” Muzaffar said.

He said the local residents always help people in such situations.

Yogingder Singh, a stranded trucker from Pathankot, Punjab, told Greater Kashmir that government authorities provided them a small amount of rice and pulses for merely couple of days and then they did not show up.

“These are the local residents who continue to provide us food and water,” said Singh, who is stuck near Badragund village. 

He said they could not cook themselves in their vehicles as they ran out of fuel and money.

“For the past 21 days, I am stranded here,” he said.

Another trucker Devraj from Rajouri said they would have died of starvation if locals had not helped them. 

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