Staff Reporter

Jammu: On the directive of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Army and the Air Force have stepped in to airlift stranded passengers in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway continued to remain closed for the seventh day due to heavy snow, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the State.Dr. Singh issued orders for a two-day free air service to help shift the passengers in Jammu through special aircraft.

While the Air Force provided the planes, the Army deployed its personnel at the Jammu Bus Stand and tourist centres to assist the passengers in moving out.

Initially, about 200 passengers were airlifted in four AN-32 aircraft from here on Wednesday, while 452 passengers were moved to Udhampur by the Army in buses to be airlifted.

The Army also established a transit camp at Udhampur toprovide food and medical assistance to the passengers.

It has also taken up the opening of the national highway on a war footing. A Border Roads Organisation taskforce has been working continuously round-the-clock and the road is scheduled to open in a few days.