ASI, family hoped against hope for help

Published January 9, 2022
ASI Naveed Iqbal’s surviving son (right) looks on as a relative talks to media outside the deceased police official’s residence in Islamabad on Saturday. — White Star
ASI Naveed Iqbal’s surviving son (right) looks on as a relative talks to media outside the deceased police official’s residence in Islamabad on Saturday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: An assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of the capital police, his four children, a sister, niece and nephew were among those who died after being stuck in snow on a road in Kuldana near Murree.

“We are stuck on road and the doors of the car are not opening. Now we are switching on the heater and going to sleep till help reaches,” Kohsar Police Station House Officer (SHO) Shabbir Tanoli quoted ASI Naveed Iqbal as saying in his last call which he made at 4am on Saturday.

In another call to a colleague, the ASI said: “We are on the road between Nathiagali and Murree where it is snowing heavily and the road is blocked and all vehicles are half buried in snow. Now it is 9pm and we have been here since 12 noon. No vehicle has arrived to remove the snow.”

He also said there were children in all vehicles who were crying continuously, adding that there was nothing to eat or drink.

“We are switching on the heater and going to sleep,” ASI Naveed Iqbal says in his last call

Later, the ASI, his daughters Shafaq, 18, Dua, 13, Iqra 10, son Ahmad, 5, niece Hooria, 2, nephew Ayan, 9, and sister Quratul Ain were found dead in the car, the SHO said.

Naveed Iqbal, 51, a native of Talagang, joined the police in 1992 as a constable. His wife, three daughters and two sons were living in their village while he lived with his younger brother Asif — a policeman stationed in the security division — at a house in G-6.

The ASI’s wife and son had not accompanied them to Murree and were in their village.

Mr Iqbal had taken two days leave to visit Murree, the SHO said, adding that he was scheduled to return to work on Saturday.

The ASI worked at the district and sessions court Islamabad as a naib court reader and had been posted to the Kohsar police station on August 8, 2021.

Details collected from other police officials said Mr Iqbal called his colleagues asking them either to send a crane or rescue those stuck along with him in the snowbound road.

“For how long should we wait for the crane,” they quoted him as saying. “We will be happy if we get out of here by morning or at least if the crane starts working we will be hopeful that it will be all right,” ASI Iqbal told a colleague.

He said: “It ha been continuously snowing here; it might have stopped in Murree city. May Allah help us as we are very worried.”

A police spokesman said three ambulances were sent to Murree along with two officers to bring the bodies of the ASI, his children and relatives.

Besides, a contingent of police was also deployed on a way to Murree from Islamabad to control the flow of traffic and assist the tourists.

All roads leading towards Murree from Islamabad have been closed, the spokesman said, adding that the SSPs operations and traffic were in the field along with the police force and assisting the Punjab police.

Only rescue and emergency vehicles are allowed to move towards Murree. The police are also conducting an operation on an emergency basis to evacuate tourists from Murree.

Vehicles of capital police are also transporting those who are coming from Murree on foot, the spokesman said, adding that police teams were also present in Bhara Kahu to assist the tourists.

Tourists who lost their way or were stuck on the road after their vehicles broke down were being provided assistance to return to Islamabad, he added.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2022

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