Gurez, Oct 18: With the onset of winter, many residents of the remote Gurez Valley in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district are preparing for their annual migration, a necessity due to the valley’s harsh winter conditions that can isolate them for more than six months.
Situated along the Line of Control (LoC), Gurez Valley experiences heavy snowfall during the winter, which effectively cuts it off from the rest of the region. The primary reason for this isolation is the closure of the Bandipora-Gurez road, often blocked by heavy snow at the Razdan Pass.
Abdul Hameed, a local resident, said that they have started preparing for migration to Bandipora as the harsh winter is about to start. He said the area will become cut off from the rest of the valley during winter.
“We lack basic amenities during this season,” he said, adding, “For many residents, migration is a matter of necessity due to the challenging winter conditions and the scarcity of essential supplies, especially during medical emergencies.”
Noor Mohammed, another local, recalled the difficulties faced in previous winters, particularly during medical emergencies. “During medical emergencies, especially pregnancy cases, we witness huge difficulties here,” he said.
Many upper-class residents in Gurez have already started migrating, seeking a more comfortable and safer place to spend the winter in other parts of the Kashmir Valley.
“As we are about to leave our homes in Gurez ahead of the harsh winter, we entrust our livestock to our neighbours who will oversee them during the season,” said Tasleema, an elderly lady. She said most of the villagers these days are preparing to migrate from here.
Farooq Ahmad also shared his experience, “I remember last year there was a pregnant lady here who was about to give birth to a child, but we couldn’t take her to the hospital as the area was covered with a thick white blanket of snow.”
My family also stays in Bandipora during the winter months, he added.
Mohammad Amin, another resident of Gurez, said even though the region has seen substantial development over the years, the migration continues, especially among those who also own homes in other parts of Kashmir. “A decade ago, the Gurez region lacked basic facilities, and the residents endured significant hardships, which compelled them to migrate during the harsh winter months,” he said.
An official said that Gurez residents have been migrating during the winters for the past decade due to the lack of basic facilities in the area during that time.
He said the administration is committed to ensuring Gurez residents receive essential services during the winter, including healthcare, essential supplies, and fuel.
“Helicopter services are also arranged for residents during the winter months to address the medical emergencies,” he added.