“A phone call from the army late Monday night left us in complete shock. Gurpreet was our only bread-earner.” – Sukhwinder Singh of Meeran Sahi village in Amritsar, father of Lance Naik Gurpreet Singh.
“The phone call from the Army has changed our life. I have four daughters, and Ranjit was my only son. It’s a big loss. No compensation can fill this gap.” — Mohan Singh Khaba Rajputaan village in Amritsar, father of Naik Ranjit Singh.
The stories of the army personnel, who were killed early on Monday when avalanches hit their training camp in Kashmir, sound similar.
While 23-year-old Gurpreet was to get married soon, Ranjit was expected to help marry his four sisters off. Gurpreet was inspired to join the army by his grandfather, while Ranjit was a soldier’s son.
Their families are sad also because their sons did not get a chance to fight in the battlefield. They were buried alive.
Early on Monday, avalanches trapped 80 of 400 army personnel undergoing training at Khilanmarg, 8 km from Gulmarg, leaving 17 personnel dead.
The Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) said they had warned of the impending catastrophe, only to be ignored by the army brass.
Jimmy Kansal, a SASE official said, “We had issued an advisory to the Army on February 2. Then on February 5, we issued a medium-level risk warning. On February 7, it was upgraded to high-risk.”
Lt Col J.S. Brar, army spokesman in Srinagar, said, “It was considered a safe area” and the army had to train to work in all odd conditions.
On Tuesday, a fresh avalanche killed an army jawan in Kupwara district near LoC.
In another incident, a BSF jawan died whne a pine tree fell on a residential barrack of 26 Bn. BSF Camp Nowgam in north Kashmir.