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.”
Mehbooba red-flags ‘arming residents’ in Chenab valley
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Saturday flayed Centre and state governments for their plans to “arm civilians” in sensitive Chenab Valley saying that such attempt will set a dangerous trend.
“Reports about administration trying to arm civilians under the garb of creating Village Defence Committees in Chenab Valley are disturbing and alarming especially at the time when the government has to be inclusive to avoid further alienation of youth across the state,” Mehbooba said in a statement.
She said that similar experiments of “arming civilians” under anti-militancy grid in 90s led to “complete chaos.”
“The wounds inflicted upon the general masses due to such move are still fresh.
“In communally sensitive areas like Chenab Valley the plans are fraught with only dangerous consequences,” she said.
Mehbooba added that the union government recently had planned to wind-up all such defence committees.
“… but suddenly, they are taking a U-Turn. Not only such committees are being strengthened but even fresh arms being were issued, that too to the people with a particular political ideology,” she said.
The PDP president condemned the registration of a “false and frivolous” FIR against the party leaders including its former legislator and senior leader Firdous Tak and Youth District President Kishtwar Wasil Doolwal for seeking immediate roll back of such plans.
“The party leaders have represented the sentiments and aspirations of the people but it seems that the local administration was working under pressure from a particular political organisation. The registration of the case only speaks about the sorry state of affairs in Chenab Valley. The registration of the case seems to be a step taken under political compulsions and it should be rectified,” she said, while demanding immediate withdrawal of the case.
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jul 20: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti Saturday dissolved the party’s top decision-making Political Affairs Committee (PAC).
The move comes less than a week ahead of the PDP’s 20th foundation day anniversary scheduled to be observed on July28.
“Mehbooba Mufti has dissolved the PAC and a new body will be reconstituted in near future,” a PDP spokesman said.
While no reasons were assigned for the sudden decision of the PDP president, sources in the party said it was done in the wake of number of senior party leaders including several MLAs and former ministers quitting the party.
Those who have left the PDP include Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Altaf Bukhari, Haseeb Drabu, Imran Ansari, Abid Ansari and Abbas Wani (all former MLAs).
Cop turned drug peddler arrested
Srinagar, Jul 20: J&K Police Saturday arrested a drug peddler in Srinagar who turned out to be a cop.
A spokesperson said that Srinagar police intercepted and arrested one drug peddler at a checkpoint near Batamaloo.
The peddler, as per the police spokesperson, was identified as Mohammad Altaf Rather son of Akbar Rather resident of Panzan Chadoora.
“It is learnt that the arrested person works in Police department as Head Constable and has been accordingly placed under suspension,” the spokesperson said, adding the police seized 650 gms of charas and cash amount Rs 19,150 from his possession.
Accordingly case FIR No. 64/2019 under relevant sections of law was registered in the matter.
“He was shifted to Police Station Batamaloo where he remains in custody. One motor cycle bearing registration number JK01S-2152 also has been seized,” the spokesperson said.
The police requested people to come forward with any information regarding drug peddlers in their neighbourhood.
Drugs trap to spoil Kashmiri youth: Farooq
Srinagar, Jul 20: Member of Parliament and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah asked the youth of J&K to stay away from rising drug menace.
“The rising drug menace in Kashmir is a trap used to spoil the future of Kashmiri youth. I urge youth to stay away from it,” Farooq said while addressing a convention of NC workers at Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Farooq added that “if the special status of Jammu and Kashmir will be removed, all the presidential laws will come to an end by itself.”
Member of Parliament Hasnain Masoodi, Member of Parliament M Akber Lone, General Secretary Ali M Sagar, former MLA Handwara Choudhary M Ramzan, provincial president Nasir Alsam Wani and Sharif-ud-din Sharik were present on the occasion.