BANGALORE: Not many tourists venture towards the northern districts of Kashmir as they are bound by the LOC with lot of restrictions imposed by the authorities on one’s movements. Crossing the sublime but simmering surroundings of Tregham village in Kupwara district, we made our way across terraced paddy fields, fruit orchards and sleepy villages to take a peek at Tangdar division that is known as the 'Chutney Division' in army parlance. Driven by a Pahari driver who was happy to relate the occurrences in these remote hilly terrains and the problems faced by the villagers in tackling both militants and Ikwanees (informers) in the last few decades, we realized how fortunate we were... living so far away from the border skirmishes with Pakistan and the ensuing problems.
We stopped at a village just before we started our climb towards Sadhna Pass and a few locals came out to talk to us. They shared their woes caused by infiltration from across the border and also being suspected by the army for helping the militants. One of them said, “We are caught between the devil and the deep sea as both of them badger us and blame us for everything that happens here.” Hogging the local snacks and cups of hot tea, we tried our best to console them and even invited them to come to Bangalore for a change. In this scenario, the only people who looked happy here were cherubic children smiling and playing in the village without a care in the world.
Making our way through treacherous roads and steep inclines that never seemed to end, we crossed many army convoys and were delayed frequently. The dust from the heavy movement of traffic is unimaginable here and it is impossible to down your window shutters. Although Project Beacon of the Border Roads keeps on repairing these roads because of frequent landslides, still it is very tough to traverse this terrain. The development of infrastructure and the connectivity to many towns and villages in these northern fronts is a big question mark and no government has done anything to improve the prevailing scenario.
A local villager says that for the past 50 years, the situation has not changed much as people living in border areas of Kashmir find it very difficult to travel to Srinagar and other districts by road. After crossing the dusty roads, we arrive at Sadhna Pass where the ice-clad rocks at 11000 ft were covered in dust. Apart from this, one can get a peek across at the mountain ranges in POK, the view is beautiful from one of the viewpoints at a higher range. Even at this height, one can see shepherds with their goats in search of a green patch. But alas! Here too, shelling from across the border is not a rarity, and marks are clearly visible in many places. After crossing this lonely pass which hardly sees any visitors, we make our way downhill to Tangdar. But that is another story.