Srinagar, Sep 19: “Neither I can put it in words, nor will you understand it in words. It was a split second, but to me it was an eternity,” says Hazik Beigh, survivor of tragic Kolahoi Expedition of September 7.
Pressed further, he sighs, gazes at the peeling hospital ceiling and his heavily bandaged fingers, and mumbles a response.
On September 2, nine trekkers left for expedition to Kolahoi Glacier. Little did they know that their excitement of conquering the peak would turn into mourning as they faced a rockfall while descending, claiming two lives and leaving another trekker grievously injured.
Lying on a bed at the SMHS Hospital is Hazik, who is suffering from sixth rib-cage fracture along with several minor fractures.
A tube drains out the excess fluid in his body as his lungs heal from the sudden trauma. Looking visibly shocked, he narrates his near-death experience.
“Time, space, emotions, everything ceased to exist. I felt my skull is broken and I am dead,” recounts Hazik.
He says in a feeble voice, “We started early morning on September 2. One week was the timeline and Aadil Shah was the one who organised it.”
The young mountaineer says that before leaving for the expedition, the group had done proper research work about the glacier.
“We held discussions with people who had gone on such treks and thoroughly discussed the routes that had to be taken. After much thought, we took the southern route that was less deteriorated,” he recalls.
Taking a long pause moaning lightly from pain, he gulps down few sips of water, and resumes talking again.
“The expedition was carefully planned by taking every member into the loop. It was everybody’s effort and the work was divided. While some took care of the technical part, the others saw that we take our proper safety gear and snacks with us,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
The young mountaineer says throughout the trek everybody was well-equipped.
“We had all the required safety gear with us. Five people were roped up in one group and four people were in another, leaving eight meters gap in between,” he narrates.
However, on their way back, the weather changed suddenly which made the group halt their journey for some time.
“Weather became foggy, triggering a hailstorm and snowfall,” he recalls.
On the sixth day, the young climber recollects, the weather got clear and the group excitedly resumed their downhill journey.
Little did they know that expedition would claim two lives and he third injured.
“The visibility got fine and we left the tents there, picked up all our technical gear, and set out,” he recalls.
“At the time of incident, Aadil was leading our group, Naveed was second, and I was third. We were at the pass where the whole view of Pahalgam is visible. All of a sudden I heard a cracking sound and a big boulder started to roll down. Within a fraction of a second, Naveed was taken by that boulder, next was me,” he laments.
Hazik saw his wayfarer Naveed hit instantly by a big boulder.
“I too was in that range of stones. Big and small stones coming together and they were rolling us with it. I fell in a crevasse at the bottom of the pass,” he sighed.
He stops again and begins talking with heavy breathing, “I could feel death hovering over me. I didn’t shout or cry, there was blood all over the place. Before shouting to other guys, I realized that my left side has gone numb. It felt really loose inside of me.”
The next few moments revealed a saga of tragedies for Hazik.
“When I came out of the crevasse, I saw Naveed had gone blue in the face, and he was lying there. He was unrecognizable, I could only say, Naveed ha mood,” he recalls.
Somewhere five six meters down, another tragedy awaited them.
“There was big boulder sitting on top of Aadil. Six people removed the stone with the help of a rope, and put him in a sleeping bag. After few moans, he too stopped breathing,” Hazik remembers the haunting memories.
The group was told to wait for twenty minutes before the rescue team comes with a helicopter, however, no one came. They had no option but to move down with the injured person.
“It was really painful to walk. I was falling. We didn’t even have water with us. Around 3-4 in the morning, we reached our base camp in Dhanwar,” he says.
The mountaineer claims that they were given assurances that the rescue team will reach at 6 am but no one turned up. “By that time, I could hardly breathe, I wasn’t sure whether I can survive now. At around 10:30 the two choppers were on the way, and airlifted me to the Bone and Joint hospital and later shifted to SMHS hospital,” he says.
The rescue operation was conducted by Ram Singh and his rescue team along with Indian Air Force.
Hazik says, “Indian Air force did a great job. Apart from that I owe my life to the people of Aru. Their help was not politically driven; they had genuinely come to help me.”
Asked why they didn’t take the traditional route to the glacier to prevent the calamity, Hazik responds, “There is still one unclimbable route to Kolahoi, we took the route that was better than this particular route. Glaciers have receded a lot since 1930’s because of the climate change, the crevasses open up every day due to the temperature change. The crevasses change their course. The route which changes every day can never be conventional.”
In a recent report published by The Kashmir Monitor, the Tourism Director Kashmir had claimed that the Alpine group didn’t register with them before going for the expedition.
“In the main core of climbing circles, everybody knew that we are going and nobody objected as such,” replies the young mountaineer.
Would he go on such expeditions in the future? Hazik ends his conversation in a true mountaineer spirit, “So many people die due to car accidents, it doesn’t mean we will stop driving. Just because a calamity hit me, it won’t deter me from doing what I love.”
ASI among three cops injured in Rajbagh grenade blast
Srinagar, Jan 17: Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police and two traffic cop were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh area of Srinagar city in Central Kashmir on Thursday afternoon.
Reports said that suspected militants lobbed a grenade on police party near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh.
In the blast, three policemen including an ASI of police and two traffic policemen sustained splinter injuries and were evacuated to SMHS hospital for treatment.
The injured has been identified as Iqbal Singh (ASI of JKAP 14 Bn) and traffic policemen Haris Manzoor (SPO) and Sanullah (Head Constable).
While ASI Iqbal has sustained splinter injuries to both of his legs, Haris suffered an injury to the back side of his neck and Sanullah suffered injuries in his right leg.
SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail Parray confirmed the attack and subsequent injuries to the ASI and two traffic cops.
Soon after the attack, the government forces cordoned off the area and launched a hunt to nab the attackers.
Security forces have launched a massive search operation in Rajbagh and adjoining areas near Zero Bridge after three police personnel including assistant sub-inspector were injured in a grenade attack by the terrorists on Thursday.
Homes and hotels in the area were searched frisking was also carried out. It was the first major terrorist attack in the Srinagar city this year. The injured cops are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Meanwhile Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibly of the grenade attack on the forces’ party at Raj Bagh area of Srinagar.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan in a statement claimed that two forces personnel were killed and 6 critically injured in the attack.
An ASI of police and two traffic cops were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge, Raj Bagh in Thursday afternoon.
2018 has been remarkable year for forces: Army commander
Srinagar, Jan 17: A top army commander on Thursday described 2018 as “remarkable year” for government forces, saying that more than 250 militants were killed, 54 others were arrested and four others surrendered in Kashmir Valley.
“The year 2018 has been a remarkable year for armed forces on the security front. As per the record of last ten years, army along with other forces have neutralized many militants. Many militants have surrendered under pressure and many others were arrested alive,” said Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, GoC-in-C Northern Command told reporters after inaugurating Kalai Bridge constructed by Border Roads Organization.
“More than 250 militants were killed, 54 others arrested and four others have surrendered,” he said, adding, “This speaks about the strength of our security establishment,” the officer said.
He said that the army was giving “befitting reply” to Pakistan army along the Line of Control whenever there were instances of any ceasefire violation or snipping.
“As per wireless and other intercepts, Pakistan army and militants suffered a huge loss in our retaliatory action.”
The Kalai Bridge spans over Suran River and connects Kalai area to Chandak area in Poonch district. During the inaugural function, the Army Commander addressed the gathering of Army, GREF and local residents and said that the Kalai bridge is an important milestone towards enhancing the road communication in the area.
“The bridge is an important strategic asset as it enhances the movement of military equipment and troops in a faster time frame,” he said. The Indian Army and BRO have been working towards infrastructure development in the remote and far-flung areas and improving the road connectivity, he said.
“The bridge will reduce traffic congestion in the city and ease out inconvenience caused to the people specially those moving towards Budha Amarnath Shrine in Mandi as it reduces the travelling time considerably.”
The Army Commander appreciated the contribution of the District Administration for their support and cooperation during the construction of the bridge.
Beg to differ: Omar Abdullah
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday lashed out at the Northern Command Chief Lt General Ranbir Singh, on his “great year for security forces” remark.
Taking to Twitter, Abdullah wrote, the compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration.
“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Abdullah wrote.
Abdullah was reacting to a statement by Gen Singh on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Kalai bridge in Poonch district. Gen Singh said 2018 had been a great year for the security forces as they had managed to kill 250 terrorists.
Heartening to meet Kashmiri students in Bangladesh: Shahid Afridi
Srinagar, Jan 17: Star Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi on Thursday met Kashmiri students in Bangladesh and interacted with them.
Afridi said that it was heartening to see Kashmiri students in Bangladesh who are studying medicine.“Heartening meeting with some Kashmiri students who are in Bangladesh on scholarship, studying Medicine. Keep up the hard work and making your people proud!,” he tweeted.
Afridi in the past has been in controversies over Kashmiri over his support to the Kashmir cause. He has been vocal about letting the people of Kashmir decide their future.