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‘A phone call that never came’: Hopes fade for Kashmiri survivors in Uttarakhand tragedy


SRINAGAR:  Jatinder Kotwal’s six-year-old daughter has been frantically calling for her dad for the last four days.

Struggling to calm her down, her family is trying their best to distract her with toys and false promises. Working as a supervisor in Chamoli, Kotwal is among two Jammu and Kashmir residents who are missing in the Uttarakhand tragedy.


“We have not received any news so far. He was working as a supervisor. We have no information whatsoever. His name is not even in the list of missing people,” said Sunil Kumar Kotwal, brother of Jatinder.

 Jatinder Kotwal

A pall of gloom has enveloped the family after hopes faded for any survivor. All roads seem to be leading to Kotwal household as people from neighboring areas rushed to express solidarity with the family.

“He had called his family at 9 am on a fateful day. Since then his phone is switched off. We have contacted his contractor but to no avail. Now my elder brother Rakesh Kumar had gone to Uttarakhand. He too is groping in dark,” said Sunil.

Two hundred kilometers away in Srinagar, engineer Basharat Zargar’s family is clinging to the hope that he may return home safely one day.  

Zargar, working as general manager at Kundan group of companies, went missing when he was inspecting a tunnel at Chamoli on Sunday.

“He was here a few days before the tragedy. He had to go back because he had to fx some mechanical fault at the site. On the morning of the fateful day, he called up his brother Shabir Ahmad. He told him that we will talk in detail once I reach home. When he called him back, his phone was switched off. Since then we have no contact with him”, said Asif Zargar, brother of Basharat.

Engineer Basharat Zargar

What has added to the worries is the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities. “We have talked to authorities and the company but the response is not satisfactory. We have talked to the authorities of Jammu and Kashmir, but they too are not responsive. Our family members are camping in Uttarakhand and they too say that the response of authorities is not forthcoming,” said Asif.

An accomplished engineer, Basharat has been working with the Kundan group for the last two years. “We cling to hope. We pray that all will be ok,” said Asif.