Pakistan shelling, climate change causing avalanches: Army chief

New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Sunday said climate change and heavy shelling from Pakistan are responsible for the increase in avalanches that have claimed lives of at least 15 army men since last week.

The army chief was speaking after laying wreath at the mortal remains of Major Amit Sagar, who lost his life in an avalanche that struck an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Gurez sector on Wednesday.

“Ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons by Pakistani troops is leading to loosening of soil, hereby creating danger of a landslide… There have been a lot of ceasefire violations and heavy weapons too are being used,” the army chief said.

“Global warming is also leading to cracks in glaciers,” he said.

He added that avalanches were being reported from areas which in the past did not have so many incidents.

Gen. Rawat said the soldiers had to be deployed at many places despite the danger of an avalanche to prevent infiltration.

“In the weather that is prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir, the soldiers have been deployed to counter the terrorists and infiltrators. They are doing their duty despite the adverse conditions,” he said.

“Major Amit Sagar is an example, he volunteered to serve in the area knowing the difficult conditions,” he said.

The army chief added that the bodies of the soldiers that were martyred are still in Jammu and Kashmir because of the weather conditions, but all efforts are being made to bring them down.

“I want to assure the families of soldiers affected by avalanche in Jammu and Kashmir that we are with them,” Rawat said.

He said the army withdraws troops from places where there is possibility of an avalanche. However, some posts are vulnerable to insurgency.

“We are working with Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment to map avalanches so that we are better prepared and can move troops in case of danger,” he said.

At least 15 soldiers were killed after two avalanches hit a military post and a patrol team along the Line of Control (LoC) in last few days.