In the wake of at least 22 deaths in last week’s Murree tragedy, government spokesmen are turning their attention to it, with the severity of the weather as well as a series of accusations against tourists.
In an exclusive interview with Urdu News, Additional Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi Captain (Retd.) Qasim Ijaz, who is in charge of the Murree administration, said that the administration had made a complete plan for snowfall, but a record-breaking snowfall was observed. He also got out of hotels and insisted on sitting in cars despite the insistence of the management.
In an interview to Urdu News in Murree, the Additional Deputy Commissioner said that we are also sorry that 22 lives were lost but we have saved 40,000 lives. We had police, we had traffic police and we had civil defense which did its best.
“Our assistant commissioners knocked on the door of one of the vehicles that was parked there and said, ‘Please come with us, we will take you to a building.’ Use Tamil to give up their possessions’
Asked if plans are made every year before the snowy season in Murree, if there were any plans this year, he said that like every year, this year also had a plan for the snowfall season and in this regard three Meetings were also held in Murree and two in Rawalpindi, but the average snowfall here has been much higher this year. He said that on January 8, 17 inches of snow fell in one day which was a record of 25 years which is also accepted by the locals. “It wasn’t snowing, it was a blizzard, as seen in the videos.”
He said that as soon as we received the first notification, we had set up check posts at all the entrances and set up a control room in the DC office. All of them were mobilized at that time. Rescue 1122 vehicles arrived and at the same time we arranged a shuttle service.
He was asked if the administration did not know the capacity of vehicles in Murree then why they were not stopped from coming here. So Captain (Retd.) Qasim Ijaz said that Qasim Ijaz said that there were many ways to come, we stopped at that time but our tourists had already entered Murree in good weather and stayed since then. They were actually out. About 30,000 people were already staying in the hotels before the rush of outsiders.
“Our people were not aware and there was a rush and everyone took to the streets and it was very busy,” he said.
He said that there was a small (road) section of the road here and it was narrow. That it was difficult for our rescue people to get there. He claimed that we had mobilized all the machinery of the highway department overnight. Our officers who are the Assistant Commissioners (ASCs) here and besides us and two and ACs were called from other tehsils. In addition, a control room was set up in Murree and a DC office was set up in Rawalpindi.
Asked why the administration does not take action on complaints of looting of tourists by hotels and other businesses in Murree, the Additional Deputy Commissioner said that we are also watching on social media and we are getting news but It takes action when we receive specific information.
He also met the president of the hotel association. We have told them that now we will regulate them and we will take action against the specific complaints that are coming.