Harsh winter disrupts life and cripples essential services in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Indian-controlled Kashmir, nestled in the knees of the mighty Himalayas, is in extreme cold with a temperature dropping below freezing, bringing an end to normal life.

Heavy and relentless snowfall in recent days has cut the landlocked valley off from the rest of the world, with air traffic also hanging in the wake of inclement weather.

Citing a meteorological service official, local media reported on Monday that Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a minimum temperature of 0.2 ° C overnight.

Nighttime temperatures at world-famous Gulmarg ski resort stabilized at minus 10 ° C on Sunday evening. Pahalgam, another famous resort in southern Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 2.5 ° C.

The Himalayan region is currently in the grip of the harshest 40-day winter period, known locally as “Chillai Kalan”, which began on December 21.

The harsh winter conditions in Kashmir usually come with a myriad of hardships for the locals, including a severe shortage of basic necessities, blackouts and frozen water.

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

With the shift of the entire government apparatus to Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu, the plight of residents of the Kashmir Valley has once again taken on frightening proportions, residents told Press TV.

The vaccination campaign for 15-18 year olds currently underway in many parts of the region has also been disrupted by severe winter conditions and heavy snowfall.

The region has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days, with 687 confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and at least three reported deaths, officials said on Sunday.

A total of 437 new cases were reported in Jammu Division and 250 in Kashmir, bringing the total to 344,652.

Kashmir, fully claimed by both India and Pakistan, is grappling with a decades-long insurgency against Indian rule, which is straining the region’s economy.

In winter, the situation becomes particularly grim for the local population, as businesses are practically closed and essential services are also disrupted.

In an incident on Sunday, a woman died in northern Kashmir after being unable to reach the nearest hospital in time due to snow-covered roads not being cleared.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947. The two countries claim all of Kashmir and have waged three wars on the territory.

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

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