‘Baba, we are shivering': Devastated, man recounts horror of losing minor kids to cold

ESS AHMAD. Dated: 1/21/2021 12:04:27 AM

ANANTNAG, Jan 19: Earlier this month after the heavy snowfall started in valley, crippling the normal life for over a week, two minor children of a nomad, Zubair Ahmad Mandar, putting up in a tarpaulin tent in Brinal-Lammer forest area of southern Kulgam district started complaining of severe cold.
As the snowfall continued for more than two days causing severe dip in temperature, siblings complained of ‘freezing’. The poor and helpless father of the two kids kept watching his kids shiver in cold for several days.
With no house and ill-prepared for the cold, the nomadic family that usually migrates to Reasi in the winters changed its plans. They felt that travel during Covid would make the children vulnerable. The harsh weather of the Valley, however, wreaked complete havoc.
Since Saturday last when the valley was caught in the grip of record-breaking cold conditions, both the children in their fight against the severe chill suffered severe health complications. Both of them, Sahil and her younger sister, Shazia, had high grade fever and chills.
On Saturday evening, the condition of both worsened making their helpless father restless.
"Both of them had fever and were only crying 'Baba sardi lag gayi' (Baba we are shivering with cold). Seeing my two children crying and shivering was ripping my heart apart. Since it was late night and taking them to hospital was no option, I was now restlessly waiting for dawn to arrive to take them to a healthcare facility but my son died shivering in the dead of the night," the shattered father of the two children told Kashmir Times over phone.
After performing the last rites of his minor son, Zahoor was yet to come out of the shock, the condition of his 6 year old daughter, Shazia worsened the next night. Early in the morning, the devastated father took her daughter on his shoulders and left for hospital on foot. She, however, breathed her last on the way.
"Even after realising that she had died on my shoulders, I took her to the hospital hoping that doctors may do something to save her life. But on reaching the hospital, the doctors declared her dead," Zahoor said.
More than losing his minor kids to cold under open sky, no help from administration pains the devastated father.
"When my kids were crying and shivering, a neighbouring boy came and clicked their video and sent it to media for circulation. But even then nobody reached out to me. Had the administration come and helped me well in time, my children would have possibly survived," Zahoor rued.
After the death of my two kids, Zahoor said, many top officials have been visiting me, offering condolences and assuring all the possible help but nobody came to me when I needed them most.
The local tehsildar had told the media that the family had been asked to shift to the school building well in time which they refused.
However, the father of the dead kids and a local resident, Mohd Iqbal, also belonging to the tribal community, discredited such claims.
"I had clicked and circulated the video of the sick children and their living condition only with the intention that people from the state administration will reach out to the family. But they came only after the children died. Some officials came with some blankets and one or two thousand rupees. What use are the blankets to the family when it has lost its kids," Iqbal told Kashmir Times.
Iqbal said that during winters, the family would migrate to Reasi during winters.
"But this year it had decided to stay back due to Covid. The family has now been shifted to the house of a neighbour and locals are consoling and taking care of them," Iqbal told Kashmir Times.



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