Gurez braces for harsh winters, maximum population relocate to alternate places

SRINAGAR, NOV 13: As winter set in, residents of Gurez from north Kashmir’s Bandipora have started migration as the area faces isolation for months due to heavy snowfall.
About 135 kilometres from Srinagar, Gurez houses 40,000 people and sees migration or preparations for the harsh winter.
The closure of the road coupled with harsh weather conditions forces many residents to migrate to other parts of the valley. Mohammad Amin, a resident of Gurez, shifted to the main town Bandipora along with his wife, daughter, and son, last week.
He said harsh weather conditions, shortage of essential commodities and the health emergency are the main reasons for many to migrate from here.
“In Gurez, it is not possible for children to prepare for competitive examinations as it remains closed for months when it receives several feet of snow. Even labourers and farmers have no work there during winters so I am moving to Bandipora town in a rented house to make some earning and also my children could study there,” he said.
Those staying stockpile essentials, residing in wooden houses, while soldiers posted there prepare for six-month isolation.
Farooq Ahmad collects firewood and provisions, highlighting the challenges of no work during winter.
“Except government employees, most people in Gurez remain idle during winters. We have no work here. We can’t do farming work like cultivating crops during winters,” he said.
Most of the residents of Gurez continue to live in wooden houses because of the harsh weather conditions.
As residents have hardly any work to do during winter, many youth of Gurez have been organizing cricket tournaments on five feet of snow. “Playing cricket is the only leisure activity the youth of Gurez do during winters. It keeps us mentally and healthily fit,” said Mohammad Shafi, a local youth whose family is dependent on farming.
The Gurez is prone to avalanches where the avalanches hit every year.
“This place receives around 12 feet of snowfall and we still have to remain here. There is no mobile connectivity in upper areas and we often talk to our families after weeks,” one of the soldiers posted in the area said.
These army personnel also rear the cows and yak and obtain milk to feed themselves as the area remains cut off from the rest of the world for months.

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