Elements of nature have shown their ferocity that caused untold hardships to the people of the State especially those living in higher reaches of Himalayan, Shivalik and Pir Panchal mountain ranges. The worst tragedy has happened in Gurez-Tithwal sectors where 20 patriotic soldiers were buried under huge snow avalanche. The army, security forces and the local police were face to face with the fury of nature as they tried but could not rescue the unfortunate soldiers from under heavy snow avalanches.
This winter has been very harsh in entire northern India especially in the mountainous and high altitude regions of Jammu and Kashmir. For nearly one week in the past, the weather remained intolerably cold owing to heavy snowfall on 25th of January. The entire mountainous region from Tithwal to Gurez where our forward defence posts are located has witnessed heavy snowfall from 13 feet to 2 feet causing avalanches and rendering movement of troops difficult owing to inclement weather and tough topography. In all the defence forces have lost 20 precious lives so far. Rescue operations conducted in harshest possible weather and difficult conditions could obtain the mortal remains of martyred soldiers with much difficulty.
We offer deep condolence to the family members of the brave soldiers who lost their lives as they were buried under heavy snow avalanche in Gurez Sector. This is not the first time that our soldiers have become victims of harshest natural calamity. They are guarding the borders of a State which has a long range of high mountains snow covered for most part of the year. It is unfortunate that soldiers have to be deployed along most hostile environs in the Himalayan heights right from Siachin Glacier to the mountain pass in Tithwal. It becomes the duty of the civil society to recognize the sacrifices of these brave sons of the soil and care for their families that have lost the bread earner. Civil society should embark on fund raising mission for the relief of the families of soldiers and policemen who had to give the supreme sacrifice of their lives while defending the borders.
The heavy snowfall and lashing rains that visited entire northern India for nearly 72 hours before the fury slowed down was the result of climatic disturbance in western part of the hemisphere. Entire Kashmir and Ladakh regions have been under the cold wave and snow. Reports coming in from different parts say that roads including highways remained blocked for 72 hours owing to snow and landslides. Thousands of vehicles have got stranded along the National Highway and because the air flights to Srinagar and Leh were also cancelled, hundreds of passengers have got stranded at Leh, Srinagar, Jammu and other places. In Kashmir valley several houses have been damaged owing to snowfall and some casualties have also been reported.
Reports of police helping stranded civilians get out to safer places have also come in from many parts of the valley. Particularly, the police officers in Kupwara police station have rendered timely help to the needy persons. The disaster caused by the fury of the nature once again reminds the State administration that disaster management mechanism has to be in place in the State. Each winter threatens us with the possible snow avalanches and mud slides rolling down the mountains and carrying away with it whatever comes in their way.
We strongly implore the Government to provide succour to the persons and families that have suffered owing to the natural disaster that has befallen the Valley or some parts of Ladakh region. Those whose houses have been damaged will need immediate support to arrange for make shift shelter. It is important that people pay attention to the warning of the weatherman about the forecasts and avoid getting caught on the wrong foot. People should not come out of their homes when the warning is issued. We also recommend that police personnel who have shown great dedication to duty and rendered crucial help to the stranded people should also be given their due share of recognition.