“Back to early period”: Of snow-covered roads and dark nights in Kashmir

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Seventy-five-year-old Khatija Bano fell severely ill in the wee hours of Tuesday. When she needed urgent medical attention, the heavy snow accumulated outside her home in Shopian’s Turkwangam barred the family from shifting her to Pulwama. 

Bano’s elder son, Zubair Lone, 46, lifted her on shoulders and walked upto the local stand for public traffic and boarded a cab. “I cleared the snow bit by bit and only then could the driver move forward,” said Lone. It took the family three and a half hours to reach the hospital.

Since last Sunday, heavy snowfall in parts of Kashmir has disrupted lives as people were forced indoors, again. While beautiful views from windows attracted many on small screens, lives were halted as the roads majorly remained unattended. 

According to the Meteorological department (MeT), Srinagar district received 64.7 centimeters snowfall. In south Kashmir districts, Anantnag Qazigund area recorded the highest snowfall of 136.9 centimeters while Kokernag recorded about 94 centimeters. In north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, 28.5 centimeters snowfall was recorded.

Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, 35, a mason from Larnoo area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district has been at home from the last four days as snow continued to block the roads. Mushtaq Lone’s village received upto 3 feet snowfall. “The authorities will clear the main road in [the] coming days but what about the road that connects the village with the main road,” he said.

People across the Valley faced problems as they navigated through blocked roads in dark nights. Mushtaq’s village has been dark for the last two days. “Last night, we dined by candlelight just like older times,” he said. “The government says we are developing but seems like we are going back to the early period.”

Currently, there are three pregnant women in his village. “What if something happens. How are we going to help them?” he questioned, adding that villagers have arranged a makeshift stretcher in case of an emergency. 

Ninety-six kilometers away, the fear got real for villagers in Shopian’s Keller after a woman, who had labour pain at her home, was carried by people on a makeshift stretcher. She gave birth to a boy on the way to the hospital. 

The accumulated snow also disrupted the plans of 26-year-old Bisma Jan, a resident of Ananatnag’s Mahind village, to reach Srinagar for her examination for the post of probationary officer at State Bank of India. 

She had her exams on 4 and 6 January however, due to unclear roads, she opted out and missed both examinations. “Not even a single vehicle was moving,” she said, with disappointment. “I even tried to leave [on 6 January] but the authorities have not cleared the roads.”

The Kashmir Walla tried to contact the deputy commissioner Anantnag, Kuldeep Sidha but he was not available to talk.

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