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Soldier Battles Snow, Weather to Get Mother’s Body Back Home in J&K

Srinagar: Heavy snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district has marooned a soldier trying to take the body of his mother back home.

Mohammad Abbas has been stuck in the garrison village of Rangwar with the body of his 60-year-old mother Sakina Begum who died on the intervening night of January 27 and 28th.

Begum’s body, according to a relative, has curled up and gone out of shape since she died of cardiac condition six days back in Pathankot where Abbas serves in Army.

“The family is bitter because a dead woman is not reaching her grave,” he said.

Her remains are not reaching home because the road from Chowkibal – a base point to Karnah – to Sadhna top is clogged with six feet of snow.

Abbas and his few of his relatives have been stuck at this point for the last four nights trying desperately to cross Sadhna ridge to their native village of Chitrakote- a distance of 50 km distance.

They tried everything to reach their destination but to no avail. They said that they asked the Kupwara district administration for help to get a chopper but it never materialised. They tried to get the snow cleared but the machines and men of the Border Roads Organisation had logistical problems. They even tried to cover the distance on foot but were forced to return to Rangwar because the trek was difficult and dangerous.

On Thursday morning, after four days in a makeshift Army accommodation, Abbas and his relatives decided to lug the body uphill. He told News18 that if they walk at their pace, they would be in the village by Thursday evening.
He told News 18 that he is helpless with no one willing to help. “This is so humiliating. I am not been able to give her a proper burial,” he said.

Kupwara district magistrate Ghulam Mohammad Dar told News 18 that they have come with men and machines to clear the road but the family has set on foot with the body.

“We have even pressed a chopper but the family refused the facility because they were not sure of the weather and if the chopper could take off,” he said.

When the weather packs up, it becomes difficult to carry out sorties, he added.

Begum had gone to Pathankot for treatment. She complained of chest pain, was taken to a hospital but died in the intervening night of 27 and 28th of February. Abbas went to Jammu then Srinagar by road because the flights were either cancelled due to bad weather or tickets were not available.

On reaching Srinagar, he set off for Karnah near the Line of Control. But because of heavy snow, he had to halt at Chowkibal, the last village before the army garrison area. “Being a soldier, the Army accommodated us. They provided food for last four days,” Abbas’ cousin Shanawaz Ahmad said.

In Karnah, residents had protested the government inaction. Dar said the chopper pressed into service on Thursday but Abbas alleged when he checked with the administration early in the morning as like he did in the last four days, there was no response. Karnah gets cut off for several weeks after heavy snowfall. Residents have pitched for construction of a tunnel that would bypass Sadhna ridge over last five decades but no action has been taken about this till date.