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Cloudburst troubles Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar/Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir has been through an unusual situation during the last fortnight with cloudbursts occurring with frightening frequency.

Photo Credit: itimes.com
Photo Credit: itimes.com

The freak phenomenon after last year’s unprecedented floods has put the common man on the edge.

Six people were killed last week as multiple cloudbursts hit the north Kashmir mountain villages of Kulan, Rizan, Gagangir, Sonamarg, and the Baltal base camp of the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Many heads of cattle, besides sheep and goats, in the meadows have also reportedly perished because of cloudburst during this period.

The damage to private property and government infrastructure by cloudbursts in the Jammu region has been more, though fortunately no human being lost life due to this freak weather phenomenon in Jammu region.

Government buildings, including some schools and health centers, besides private property including shops and residential houses, were damaged in Poonch and Ramban districts because of cloudbursts.

Warm, sunny mornings have been followed by sudden gathering of clouds followed by high thunderstorm/ cloudburst activity during the last 15 days as the people look skywards to gauge from where the next tragedy is likely to strike.

“Last year, there was an unprecedented flood that devastated low lying areas in the Kashmir Valley and this year it is the higher reaches that seem to be targets of divine wrath. Nobody knows what is in store for us,” said a worried Muhammad Ramzan, 57, who lives in north Kashmir’s Kangan area on the Srinagar-Leh national highway.

Sanam Lotus, director of the local Met Office, explained the freak weather active at present in the state.

“This year, the frequency of cloudbursts and thunderstorms has been unusually high in Jammu and Kashmir. There has been more than normal thunderstorm and rainfall activity because of the monsoon in the state.

“Because of high rainfall activity in March we almost had a flood like situation on our hands this year,” Lotus told IANS.

“In fact, post the September 2014 floods, there has been record breaking rainfall in Jammu and Kashmir, but heavy rainfall does not necessarily cause cloudbursts.

“For cloudbursts to occur, three conditions are important: there should be enough moisture in the air, the atmosphere should be warm and it should also be unstable, which means there should be convective activity (warming of the earth),” Lotus added.

“Unfortunately, despite rains during the last 20 days that have been moderate to light, the general daily warmth does not reduce.”

Asked why Kashmiris generally believe the monsoon clouds do not cross the Pir Panjal Mountains and drain out before a few of them manage to cross the high mountains and reach the Valley, the weatherman said: “That is a myth.”

“The fact is that the monsoons do not only cross and pour in the valley, these even cross the Himalayas and reach the Ladakh region,” he added.

Lotus, however, had a heartening word as well. “The monsoon, as of today, is not very active over the state. Normally, the monsoon withdraws by September 15, but may be delayed by a few days”, he said.

Asked about the precautions against cloudbursts, Lotus said: “I am not an expert on that. But while choosing residential sites, people must select safe sites by which I mean they should take topography including slope, vulnerability, and the like into consideration.”

Lotus believed the vagaries of nature can be mitigated and their impact can be rendered less severe by putting knowledge and technology into practice.

“Believing that low-lying areas are flood-prone is okay, nobody guarantees complete safety from nature’s fury in the higher reaches. That seems to be the message,” said a stoic Ghulam Mustaffa, 64, a resident of Baramulla district.

(IANS)

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Students at Remote J&K School Exhibiting Inexplicably Strange Behaviour

Some videos started doing the rounds on local Whatsapp groups about the students showing inexplicable symptoms

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Students, Jammu & Kashmir, Teachers
On June 14, the number of students showing same symptoms of headache, weeping, crying and then rolling on the floor went upto 50. Pixabay

Students at a far-flung school in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district have been exhibiting inexplicably strange behaviour such as rolling on the floor that has baffled both teachers and parents.

Kewal Krishan, headmaster of a government high school in Sitti village of Bani tehsil told IANS: “It all started about a month back. Two students in class 1 said they were feeling dizzy. After a while they started weeping and crying.

“We immediately shifted them out of the classroom and brought them into the office. Instead of getting any better, they started rolling on the floor”.

The headmaster said after a few days the same behaviour was exhibited by three girls of class 9.

Students, Jammu & Kashmir, Teachers
Students at a far-flung school in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district have been exhibiting inexplicably strange behaviour. Pixabay

“This put us on the alert. We called their parents who said two of these girls had suffered similar attacks a few times at home, but the parents of the third girl were shocked to learn about the behaviour of their child.

“On June 13, things started getting out of hand as 20 to 25 students, both boys and girls of 9th and 10th class displayed same symptoms in the classroom. On June 14, the number of students showing same symptoms of headache, weeping, crying and then rolling on the floor went upto 50.

“We reported these incidents to senior officers after which the local SDM visited the school along with a team of doctors from Bani hospital. They prescribed some medicines for the affected children, but this did not help as the students again showed the same behaviour.

In the meantime, some videos started doing the rounds on local Whatsapp groups about the students showing inexplicable symptoms. The chief educational officer sent a team of doctors who said that they did not find any medical reasons for the behaviour attributed to the children,” the headmaster said.

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He said an administrative officer who came to the village also happens to be a doctor.

“He met the affected students. He told us that it was not unusual for children to imitate behavioural symptoms of each other. He also said it is quite possible the affected students are not doing well academically and they have consciously or subconsciously adopted symptoms as excuses for their parents to withdraw them from the school,” the headmaster told IANS.

He said wild rumours are doing the rounds in the village that some a “tantric” book has found its way into the village that might have been read by these students.

Students, Jammu & Kashmir, Teachers
On June 13, things started getting out of hand as 20 to 25 students, both boys and girls of 9th and 10th class displayed same symptoms in the classroom. Pixabay

“Unless we have enough medical evidence and remedy available for the strange behaviour of our students it is natural for rumour mongers to spread fear among the villagers in such a far-flung area,” the headmaster said.

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He denied that any psychologist had so far visited the school who attributed the behaviour of the students to mass hysteria. (IANS)