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Murree tragedy: Is only government responsible?

At a distance of 60 km from Islamabad, Murree is the nearest and only tourist destination for summer and winter tourists (file photo).

The death toll due to unprecedented snowfall and rush of tourists in Murree has gone up to 24.

Murree is a famous and beautiful tourist and recreational destination in the north of Pakistan and just an hour’s drive from Islamabad.

Beauty of Murree

The journey to Murree is full of leafy green mountains, dense forests, and the beautiful scenery of clouds. The Murree Hills, which are green in summer and white in winter, are very attractive to tourists.

Murree has famous shopping malls and a large number of hotels. Below the Mall Road are Murree residential areas and bazaars. There are several shops selling dried fruits and vegetables. Tourists come here hundreds of miles away to enjoy the snowfall and recreation during different seasons.

Murree is considered to be one of the most important tourist destinations in Pakistan and people from all over the country come here for sightseeing and entertainment but last week a blizzard caused a tragic situation in Murree when people had to spend the night in their cars because of the sudden rise of hotel prices.

Murree tragedy

When the batteries, food, and power of the tourists’ cell phones were exhausted, the hotel room rent in Tomari was increased from 40,000 to 50,000 overnight. Huge sums of money have been demanded pushing cars and putting chains in car tires.

According to the information received from Murree, while the innocent children were starving, some people were selling a boiled egg for Rs.500. A cup of tea 500 rupees, Rs. 50’s parking for Rs 1000, one room of hotel cost people Rs. 50,000 which is usually of 2000. 

On the day of the resurrection of Murree, the rent of a room without a heater and hot water was 20,000, and the order to vacate the room at 12 o’clock the next day was also given. However, the rate of the same room in the same hotel was fixed at 50,000 the next day.

Cause of death

Regarding the deaths in the Murree tragedy, experts said that the vehicles were stuck in the heavy snowfall, so the heaters were running in the vehicles, there was a traffic jam, everyone thought to run the heater and spend the night in the vehicle It was understood that the same vehicle became a gas chamber.

Due to the snowfall, carbon monoxide was filled in the vehicles due to the closure of the exhaust gases of the vehicles, while the people living in the vehicles were expelling carbon dioxide through their breath. The car windows were closed. There was no way for oxygen to enter. Many people fell asleep due to travel fatigue, then carbon monoxide put everyone to death.

Role of the government

Two days before the Murree tragedy, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry was proudly informed that Pakistan’s economy has improved and reports of 100,000 vehicles entering Murree were also provided by the Minister but citizens are questioning whether the government’s job was just to count the vehicles? When a large number of people were entering Murree, why the administration did not make arrangements for them, and when the blizzard advance notice was received, why the tourists were not stopped?

Citizens are also questioning Prime Minister Imran Khan, who used to give examples of the resignation of the Prime Minister when a boat sank in Korea. He too could not watch the death a few kilometers away from Islamabad and now instead of taking responsibility, He has declared himself responsible and acquitted himself.

Attitude of hotel owners

No one is responsible for the deaths in Murree, but the government, the administration, and the victims themselves are responsible for their own deaths. But it is not clear why people were forced to spend the night in cars.

Survivors of the tragedy say that the hotel owners did not allow those who got out of their vehicles to enter. Even women were not allowed to use the washroom, the women who went to the local homes for the washroom were severely criticized. A hotelier said that we have all the rooms but the heaters will take five thousand per hour.

The 7,000 room was available from Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. There were even reports of goods being stolen from the vehicles of the deceased. Tourist abuse is not a new phenomenon in Murree. Those who raise their voice against human indifference are beaten by the Murree Mafia together. Every year there are campaigns to boycott Murree but the citizens turn to Murree to loot again.

As far as the responsibility for the deaths in Murree is concerned, those responsible are also responsible for it. So, despite a large number of deaths in Murree, hundreds of tourists still want to die, which has been stopped by the administration. 

Our responsibility

It is true that no one can stand in front of nature and it is not possible to prevent natural calamities but the deaths in the Murree tragedy were not natural but the result of our collective indifference and this is nothing new. A surgical mask of Rs. 5 sold for Rs. 20 to 50. Whether it is food or medicine, it is common practice to increase the price of everything if needed.

On the one hand, the government is trying to promote tourism in the country, on the other hand, tragedies like Murree can be an instructive example to discourage tourism in the country. Every effort is made to take full advantage of this opportunity. 

Rescue in the world means saving human lives. We are told to pick up the bodies. It is not necessary for the government to do everything but we have to take responsibility and consider inhumane behavior because of the tragedy of Murree. We are also responsible somewhere.

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