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Hard Times

Rough road

Beyond 10, 000 feet above sea level, a trek up a steep gradient with a 25-kilo backpack is a torment. Negotiating blocked or breached roads makes it worse, with the incessant rain washing away the soil and loosening big boulders. Even a distant thunderclap can trigger a landslide. Braving these, soldiers have to reach their units in the forward areas along the Indo-Tibet border in Sikkim since road links have been completely disrupted. Columns of men in battle fatigues and shoulders burdened with knapsacks trek through these treacherous tracks to their units since army vehicles can no longer ply. At present, army trucks can reach only up to milestone 8, or the 8th mile on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg (the 51-kilometre road from Gangtok to Nathu-la ). Beyond that, the soldiers have no option but to trek. There's no road left at many places and re-constructing them will take many more months.

To make matters worse, it will start snowing soon. But these soldiers have no choice. Even so, they never complain. Not even while hiking up steep slopes, through the quake-ravaged terrain where oxygen is scarce, baggage is heavy, the rain is cold and cruel and the risk of being crushed under a falling boulder or being swept away by a sudden landslide is very real.

Reader's opinion (1)

Abhiinav KumarOct 5th, 2011 at 17:34 PM

jai jawan!!!!!

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