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Harsh winter disrupts life, paralyses essential services in Indian controlled Kashmir

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People walk along a road during a snowfall in Srinagar, on January 7, 2022. (Via AFP)

Indian-controlled Kashmir, ensconced in the lap of mighty Himalayas, is reeling under extreme cold with temperature dropping below the freezing point, bringing normal life to a standstill.

The heavy and incessant snowfall in recent days has cut off the landlocked valley from rest of the world, with air traffic also suspended in the wake of inclement weather.

Quoting a meteorological department official, local media on Monday reported that Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2°C overnight.

Night temperature at the world-famous ski-resort Gulmarg settled at minus 10°C on Sunday night. Pahalgam, another famous resort in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 2.5°C.

The Himalayan region is presently under the grip of 40-day long harshest period of winter, known locally as ‘Chillai Kalan’, which started from December 21.

The harsh winter conditions in Kashmir are generally accompanied by myriad hardships for local people, including severe shortage of essential commodities, electricity outages and frozen water.

The region remains cut off for the fifth consecutive day on Monday due to snowfall disrupting power supply, as well as air and road traffic between Srinagar and Jammu.

With the entire government machinery moving to Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu, the ordeal of people in the Kashmir valley has again assumed frightening proportions, locals told Press TV.

The vaccination drive for 15-18 age group currently underway in many parts of the region has also been disrupted by harsh winter conditions and heavy snow.

The region has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days, with 687 cases confirmed in last 24 hours and at least three declared dead, officials said on Sunday.

A total of 437 of fresh cases were reported from Jammu division and 250 from Kashmir, taking the overall tally to 344,652.

Kashmir, claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, has been grappling with decades-long insurgency against the Indian rule, taking heavy toll on the region’s economy.

In winters, the situation turns particularly grim for local people as businesses are virtually shut and essential services are also disrupted.

In one incident on Sunday, a woman died in northern Kashmir after she could not reach the nearest hospital on time due to non-clearance of snow-filled roads.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the self-autonomy of Indian-controlled Kashmir in 2019, in a move described by Pakistan as illegal. Since then, India has imposed more internet shutdowns and other restrictions in the disputed Muslim-majority region.


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