Weather kills more soldiers than terror in J&K this winter

SRINAGAR: Forget militancy, the weather is killing more soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Ten soldiers and two porters have been killed in snow avalanches on the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in World’s Highest Battlefield of Siachin since November 18.

Latest tragedy struck the LoC at Tangdhar and Gurez sectors on Tuesday night when four soldiers were killed in two separate incidents of avalanche and snow blizzard.

The first incident occurred in the Tangdhar sector when an avalanche swept away the high-altitude Eagle Post, leaving three army personnel dead. Later snow blizzard hit the army patrol in Gurez sector, killing one soldier.

Specialized Avalanche Rescue Teams were immediately pressed into services which managed to pull out the soldiers from the mounds of snow at both the places. However, four soldiers could not be saved while others were given first aid and shifted to warmer enclosures for recuperating.

“In two separate incidents an avalanche hit a post in Tangdhar sector, and a blizzard hit army petrol on December 3. The rescue teams managed to locate and retrieve all personnel from both the spots. Despite best efforts by medical and rescue teams, three army personnel in Tangdhar sector and one army personnel in Gurez sector succumbed”, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.

This is the fourth incident in the last 15 days when snow avalanches have wreaked havoc and inflicted heavy casualties on the forces deployed on high altitude areas to prevent infiltration from across the Line of Control.

On November 18, six people, including four soldiers and two porters were killed when the avalanche hit Siachin glacier. On November 30, two soldiers were killed when the avalanche hit army patrolling party at the altitude of 18000 feet in Siachin Glacier in Union Territory of Ladakh.

Kashmir and Ladakh are currently witnessing bone-chilling cold with temperatures plummeting to minus three degrees in Srinagar. Leh recorded minus 15.6 degrees temperature on Monday night. High altitude areas along the LoC have been covered under a thick blanket of snow. Sources said more than 10 feet of snow had been accumulated at some high altitude areas.

Early snowfall and inclement weather this winter are killing more soldiers than militancy in J&K. From January 1 to November 17, 2019, 594 militancy-related incidents were witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir in which 37 civilians and 79 security forces personnel were killed. Last year 614 militancy-related incidents were registered in which 39 civilians and 91 force personnel were killed.

Post abrogation of Article 370, three security forces personnel and 17 civilians were killed while 129 persons were injured in different militancy related incidents across Jammu and Kashmir. In 2018, 328 attempts of infiltration from across the border were recorded. This year so far, 171 attempts were recorded.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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