Fencing along LoC extensively damaged by avalanches

 Avalanches in Kashmir have caused ''extensive'' damage to the fencing along the LoC in the Valley, posing a fresh challenge to the anti-infiltration grid, the Army said today.

The Army was also reviewing the feasibility of abandoning some posts near the Line of Control (LoC) in wake of the looming threat of fresh avalanches.

"There has been extensive damage to the fence in many areas, especially along the Shamsabari (mountain) range," General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of Northern Command Lt Gen K T Parnaik told reporters here.

The fence along the LoC was erected in 2004 as part of the counter-infiltration measures and has proven vital in the efforts of the army to check infiltration.
Lt Gen Parnaik said there was so much snow in the area that it has even buried the fence.

"This is a yearly phenomenon but this year the snow has been rather heavy...the fence has got damaged.In fact, there is so much of snow that it has got over the fence," he said.

Avalanches have struck many areas along the LOC in Kashmir following heavy snowfall in the Valley this winter.

A massive avalanche hit the headquarters of 109 Infantry Brigade at Dawar area of Gurez sector, near LoC, in Bandipora district on Wednesday night resulting in the death of 14 soldiers while two others are still missing.

Three more soldiers were killed the same day when another avalanche hit an army camp in Sonamarg area of central Kashmir Ganderbal district.

Lt Gen Parnaik said the Army faces a "huge task" to retrieve and repair the fence once the snow melts and summer sets in.

"I am sure we will be able to do it in time," he said. Lt Gen Parnaik said army was reviewing the feasibility of abandoning some posts near the LoC in wake of the looming threat of fresh avalanches.

"There are posts which are vacated in winters, which get cut-off... and they do come under avalanches, those posts have been vacated already. We are reviewing if we need to vacate some more posts but that will be a tactical decision which will be taken by the commanders on the ground," he said.

He said Army has a system of reoccupying the posts once the snow level goes down.

"I don't think there can be any threat of someone coming and occupying them before we do so," he said.

Lt Gen Parnaik said Army was conducting air surveillance of snowbound and avalanche-prone areas to ensure that incidents like Dawar and Sonamarg are avoided.

He said in case of avalanche threat in any area, the army will not only be evacuating its personnel but the civilians as well.

"In view of the heavy snow this season, advisories have gone to the army formations in all these remote areas to ensure that we evacuate people from those areas which could be dangerous," he added.

Earlier, Lt Gen Parnaik led the senior army officers, other ranks and representatives from civil administration in paying tribute to the soldiers killed in the Gurez avalanche.

Wreaths were laid at the coffins of the 13 soldiers before being flown to their natives places.

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