Shopian: When Muhammad Akber woke up for the dawn prayers, his mother, 90, was shivering due to the intense cold. She recently had in a fall suffered bone displacement. Akber couldn’t even get hot water for her as everything in the kitchen had frozen. He waited for an hour and made a fire pot (kangri) till the LPG cylinder and the frost on the utensils melted.
After having morning tea, he called a cab driver to take his mother to hospital. A few minutes later the driver called back to say that he was not able to start the vehicle as it had also frozen.
At about 11am, Akber finally managed to take his mother hospital after some villagers pushed the vehicle to get it started. The district had witnessed the winter’s coldest night on Saturday when minimum temperatures dropped to minus 15.1 centigrade, even 0.1 degree lower than in Nubra Valley in Ladakh.
The intensity of the cold was such that people couldn’t step out till noon, with even the maximum temperature recorded on Saturday being minus 2 degree centigrade in Shopian.
According to elders, frosted trees have been seen after three decades in the district. A local said that in the morning it seemed that there had been snowfall during the night.
Students were also unable to reach tuition centres due to the intense chill and unavailability of passenger vehicles on roads.
Muhammad Razaq Bhat, a villager from Imam Sahib, said that he had witnessed such cold after decades. “In my young age we have seen much more cold than this but then people used to wear and weave clothes, socks and blankets of sheep wool, which saved us from the intense cold,” he said, adding that there were also no outdoor chores those days; only fetching a few buckets of water was the work to be done outdoors.
It has been a month when the first heavy snowfall in the district took place, but most of the roads in Shopian town and in the district’s hilly areas are still under snow. The snow has frozen to the extent that now even use of salt to melt it has failed.
Director of the Meteorological Department in Kashmir, Sonam Lotus, told Kashmir Reader that there will be respite from the intense cold in the next two days. “We don’t have old records for Shopian, but it certainly was the coldest night since January 1991,” he said, adding that heavy snowfall witnessed in Shopian recently and then clear weather were among the reasons responsible for so much cold in the region.