26 trek snow clad Pir Panchal on foot to reach homes

Labourers who trekked through Pir Panchal mountains to reach Rajouri from Kashmir.
Labourers who trekked through Pir Panchal mountains to reach Rajouri from Kashmir.

Corona scare haunts villagers stuck in Kashmir
Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Apr 5: ‘Corona’ scare continued to haunt poor labourers from Rajouri and Poonch areas who were stuck in Kashmir, facing starvation amidst countrywide lockdown due to COVID-19 and were forced to flee from their homes, trekking down snow clad Pir Panchal mountain on-foot without food and water for days risking their lives.
Facing ordeal for four days during their on- foot journey, right from Srinagar city up to their village in Thannamandi area of Rajouri and Surankote sub division of Poonch, these poor labourers who arrived at around 11 am at Thannamandi narrated their woeful tale. They revealed how much they were scared of Coronavirus while watching news on TV at Srinagar and had realised that they will not be able to see their families again, because, it was total lockdown, no vehicle was moving on roads and Mughal Road was already closed since December. Security forces were not allowing any movement on roads and Corona was engulfing many every day.
A group of 8 persons who hail from Pangai village in Thannamandi of district Rajouri, was brought to Thannamandi hospital by police party led by DySP (Prob) Ishan Gupta and Tehsildar Anjum Khan along with Zonal Medical Officer, Dr Shabab Mirza at around 11 am and they were sent to quarantine centre at TRC Shahdara Sharief after screening. Ten more from these adjoining hamlets were still at a nearby Dhok and were later brought in the afternoon by the police and Medical team and sent to the quarantine centres, Shahdara.
The condition of these people is pitiable. Most of them are facing problem due to dehydration. Feet of many of these poor labourers have swollen and suffered injuries due to snow. Many had no proper shoes to protect themselves from 2-3 feet snow. They burnt woods on the way to keep them warm and trekked down the Pir Panchal mountain to reach Bafliaz and then their respective villages in Thannamandi and Surankote.
The matter was earlier reported to the Sub Divisional Administration at Thannamandi by Sarpanch Lower Pangai, Mohd Aziz. The administration taking cognizance of the matter provided them necessary first aid and medical assistance and then shifted them to the quarantine centres at TRC/ Auqaf Building at Shahdara Sharief.
While revealing their nightmarish experience, one of the villagers, Abdul Rashid from Pangai said that they were eight people from the same village and used to stay near Khyber Hospital in Srinagar. They were putting up in two separate huts. They were working in a local plants nursery while others with mason as labourers. After lockdown over Coronavirus, their work was suspended and they were not able to manage food. They were running short of money and for two days they remained without food. Then they decided to leave Srinagar and reach home on foot.
Another villager Wazir Hussain said that he and his brother Mohd Rafiq along with six others left for Pulwama and then reached Shopian. Eight more labourers hailing from Surankote area were joined by them. They were also moving on foot. They had nothing to eat but purchased some biscuits from a small shop in the lane at Pulwama and consumed them only during their four day long journey. Wazir further said, they spent a night in Heerpora, Pir Ki Gali and another one at Chandimarh on Mughal Road. Some of them stayed at Poshana. In Pirgali area, they trekked about 15 kms on snow and were unable to move. It was harsh cold and they used to burn fire-wood which they took with them from Shopian side and lit during their journey and saved them from chilling cold. They had rain also during their travel and faced lot of problems. Ten more persons were moving in another group and they were later joined by them near Pir Ki Gali. He said it was very horrible experience of their life and were happy to have their reunion with their families.
Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri Nazir Sheikh said that eight persons from Pangai village of Thannamandi reached this morning and they have been sent to quarantine. There are reports of some more people reaching the area. SDM Thannamandi, Mukhtar Sheikh and Tehsildar Anjum Khan said that total 18 villagers from Pangai and adjoining areas from Thannamandi arrived today from Kashmir on foot by trekking Pir Panchal and they have been sent to quarantine centres at Shahdara Sharief. They said all of them have been provided medical treatment and food etc. Eight have gone to Surankote and also kept in the centers. SDM Surankote, Salim Qureshi confirmed their arrival and said that they have been shifted to quarantine centre. He said so far 96 people have reached from Kashmir side and were kept the quarantine centres.