3 from J&K among 7 soldiers martyred in Arunachal avalanche

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Feb 8: Seven Army soldiers including three from J&K were buried alive under massive avalanche near Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh.
Official sources said that the bodies of seven Army personnel were found today in a high-altitude region in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, two days since they went missing after their patrol in the border area was struck by an avalanche.
The Army had launched a search and rescue operation on Sunday after the soldiers went missing.
“Bodies of all the seven Army soldiers have been recovered from the avalanche site. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, all seven have been confirmed deceased,” a Defence spokesman said.
He disclosed that the area located at an altitude of 14,500 feet, had been witnessing inclement weather with heavy snowfall in the last few days.
“The bodies of the soldiers were transferred from the avalanche site to the nearest Army medical facility for further formalities,” the spokesman said.
He disclosed that the soldiers were part of a patrol that was struck by the avalanche on February 6 in Chume Gyater area near Yangtse, closer to China border.
“Search and rescue operations were launched immediately, including airlifting of specialised teams,” the spokesman added.
Sources further said that among the seven, the bodies of three soldiers of 19 JAK Rifles hailing from Kathua and Jammu districts were expected to arrive here tomorrow.
They have been identified as Havaldar, Yugal Kishore, son of Ram Pal, resident of Dager village in Kharha Wali block of Khour and Sepoy, Vishal Sharma alias Guddu, son of Babu Ram (Ex-serviceman), resident of village Chak Malal in Khour Sub Division of Jammu district and Sepoy Arun Kattal, son of Prahlad Kattal, resident of village Jandore in Lakhanpur area of district Kathua.
The family members of Arun Kattal told that they had received message from Army authorities that Arun had gone missing in a snow storm near China border along with some other soldiers and search operation was in progress. They had high hopes of his survival but were left shell shocked when they received report about his death and recovery of body today. For the last three days he was missing.
Arun was married hardly three months ago and had resumed duty in North East after availing one month’s leave. He had joined Army in 2015, the family sources said.
The family members of Sepoy Vishal said that they have been told by the local administration and Army authorities in Akhnoor sector that bodies of Vishal and Jugal are expected to reach on Wednesday afternoon.
Jugal is the younger brother former Sarpanch Dager, Gautam, Sharma and Congress Block president, Kharha Wali. Babu Ram, father of Sepoy Vishal Sharma from Chak Malal village near Khour has also served in Indian Army.
Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind today said the martyrdom of Army soldiers due to an avalanche in Arunachal Pradesh is a tragedy beyond words and offered condolences to their families.
“The brave soldiers laid down their lives for the service of the nation,” he said, adding that their selfless sacrifice will always be remembered.
The bodies of the seven Army personnel of 19 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles were found today, two days after they went missing when their patrol along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang sector was struck by an avalanche.
“The death of soldiers due to an avalanche in Arunachal Pradesh is a tragedy beyond words. The brave soldiers laid down their lives for the service of the nation. Their selfless sacrifice will always be remembered. My condolences to their families,” Kovind tweeted.