Kashmir: Army Jawan fails to get administrative help, forced to carry mother's body through snow

An army jawan in Kashmir was forced to trek through snow for over ten hours, with his mothers body on his shoulders. After the jawan failed to get help from the local army units, he was forced to cover on foot a distance of more than 50 kilometres through five to six inches of snow in inclement weather.

According to a report in India Today TV, to perform his mother's last rites, Muhammad Abbas, a 25-year-old jawan hailing from a remote village in Karnah, district near Kupwara had to wait for almost a week as the route leading to his native village was covered under deep snow.

 Kashmir: Army Jawan fails to get administrative help, forced to carry mothers body through snow

Muhammad Abbas' mother's body was carried through thick snow for over ten hours. Facebook/ Banday Zahoor Banday

Detailing the charade the army jawan had to go through in order to bury his mother, a report in  India.com states that Abbas was posted in Pathankot, where he called his mother to stay with him to escape the biting cold in his village. However, his mother passed away on 28 January after suffering a cardiac arrest. He pleaded with his officials that the casket could be flown in via a chopper to his native place. But his request was rejected citing poor weather conditions.

Another report in The Asian Age states that Abbas then brought his mother's body to Army headquarters in Kupwara, hoping that he could either reach his village via road after the snow is cleared or a chopper would be arranged for him. Neither happened.

When no help arrived in over three days, Abbas after consulting few of his relatives, decided to cover the remaining stretch on foot, which is a dangerous trek and an avalanche prone zone. "The entire 52-km Chowkibal-Karnah road which passes through elevations of about 3,200 metre is avalanche-prone and an official warning against venturing out in the area stands valid for next 24 hours," The Asian Age article states.

However, ignoring the threat, Abbas, along with few of his relatives marched on through the treacherous journey to ensure a proper burial for his mother.

"It is very humiliating. I'm not able to give a decent burial to my mother. The administration kept us waiting with the body but they never sent the helicopter.. It was a dangerous trek. We were stomping through snow with my mother's body. It's an avalanche-prone zone that we were moving through," Abbas told NDTV.

"All these days we waited for the chopper. We kept calling the officers. They said it was coming but it never came...We have gone through hell all these days. The trek was dangerous and God knows how many times we thought we would not be able to make it," Nawaz, Abbas' cousin told The Telegraph.

Abbas finally reached his village on Thursday evening and performed his mother's last rites.

Meanwhile, the alleged administrative apathy brought to light stray acts of kindness from people of nearby villages who provided shelter and food to the soldier enroute the difficult trek. The villagers even helped carve out a path through the snow to help carry the casket of Abbas' mother, according to The Telegraph.

The shocking incident came to light after videos of the soldier's trek were aired on media channels. According to NDTV, while the army claimed that they had arranged for a chopper on Thursday, the family declined the facility stating as they were unsure about the weather conditions. The local administration also said that all efforts were on to remove the snow from their path.

However the family denies such claims as locals raise some pertinent questions.

Mufti Islah, a Kashmiri journalist questioned the delay in administrative help to the bereaved family in a Facebook post.

"Some 25 kilometres need to cleared of snow from Chowkibal to Sadhna top and downhill but for some strange reasons the Kupwara administration hasn't been able to do so. The body could have been easily lifted in a chopper but here too the officials have not been able to line help. The officials have now promised to fly the body to Karnah tomorrow (Thursday). The family is waiting. What else can they do,"  Islah writes.

Karnah gets cut off from other part of the Valley for several weeks after heavy snowfall, each year. A report in The Greater Kashmir states that another such incident was reported in January this year when the mortal remains of a former Naib Tehsildar could not be carried to his native village after the residents' pleas for airlifting the body went unheeded.

Updated Date: Feb 03, 2017 16:09:26 IST