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Men who call it right: Meet Sonam Lotus’ able right-hand who takes calls past midnight

By Hirra Azmat

Srinagar, Apr 14: Dr Mukhtar Ahmad is a very important man for us all, yet not everyone is aware of his role and existence.
He is the Deputy Director Meteorology in J&K, assisting the well-known weatherman Sonam Lotus.
Ask for the Deputy Director in the Meteorology’s Rambagh office, and you would get to meet the young man whose facial features reveal his Ladakhi origin.
“It seems you are also good at forecasting,” he quips on being asked about his homeland.
Born and brought up in Drass, a part of district Kargil, he completed his primary and secondary education from a local school.
“The temperature often dropped on my way to school, which was set against the towering mountains. Going to school in extreme cold conditions was difficult. I often wished to know about the change in weather beforehand,” recollected Dr Mukhtar.
After completing his graduation and masters in science from Delhi, he pursued his post-doctorate in agricultural technology.
In 2015, he qualified an UPSC exam for the post of the Deputy Director in Meteorology.
“Initially, I was skeptical about working in the department, but all my fears proved to be false. I didn’t know what to expect from Sonam (Lotus) Sir,” Dr Mukhtar said.
His fears turned out to be unfounded, as the celebrated weatherman took him under his wing and helped him learn the ropes of the trade. Now, the chemistry between them is such that Dr Mukhtar takes over in Sonum’s absence.
“Sonam Sir is a very dedicated person. Working with him is a pleasure. The way he coordinates with the staff of around 50 people is quite exemplary,” he said.
Both these men are fond of Kashmir.
“My experience of working in Kashmir has been great. We have immense public support, as people have a firm faith in our forecasts. For me, the valley is second home,” he said.
Reposing trust and confidence in them, people call them frequently to enquire about the weather.
“You won’t believe that we sometimes get calls till 3 in the night. Farmers and businessmen call us frequently,” he said.
“Farmers need to be sure about weather before spraying the costly pesticides or insecticides over their crops. The businessmen usually are concerned about the status of the highway.”
How exactly do they predict the weather and provide the information? Mukhtar explains: “We rely on the data gathered from advanced technological equipment including Doppler Weather Radar and Satellite Meteorology. This helps in data analysis through graphical information.”
Asked if the department faces any challenges in the conflict-ridden valley, Mukhtar said that every area has its own challenges.
“As long as you are in good health, every challenge can be overcome,” he said.