The place is Sathraban and it is always freezing cold, forested and known for all the wrong reasons but here on the move are the men from 5/8 GR Indian Army!
Should I describe the place as eerie, creepy or mysterious? The incidents of the past make it fit the bill anyhow but now it’s different. If you get on the top of the mountains and have a view all around it is magical from a hikers point of view but very few venture here except the herdsmen with their livestock, the summer guests of the mountains. I will make an attempt to describe the place:
The place is full of dangerous locales and the kiss of death is not far off. A lady while cutting grass rolled down in the past and died and just a couple of weeks back a bear nearly split apart a man before the Gurkha troops stepped in and saved his life.
Worse still in the years that have gone by the terrorists had made it their safe haven but they were cleaned up no sooner the Indian Army arrived. But Pakistani troops were as notorious as ever. But now it is relatively silent but incidents keep happening and yet another happened today.
The area is interspersed with stream lets, rivulets and brooks and they all flow downhill. Needless to mention the gushing waters during the rains flood them up and we all know what happens when the flashing and splashing water flows down hill rolling along with it the boulders that do the damage.
On these free flowing water ways are wooden bridges which are liable to give in as and when the water exceeds and the same thing happened as one over the Jamia streamlet succumbed to the force of the water flow and created a problem of sorts for on the move tribesmen.
Obviously the rescue work had to be done and it was with Gurkhas getting their act together. (I will come back to this later).
The officers and men of the Indian Army know that to embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment. And getting ths bridge on the track was a commitment and they did it in no time in their own style and panache!
Steel bridge, concrete bridge or a wooden bridge, tt does not matter! As long as the bridge takes you across the other side, it is a good bridge! That is what is required in mountains since the water ways are not easy to cross with heavy equipment and in case of the tribesmen with the herd which are really huge it simply cannot be. A similar kind of situation developed in Sathraban. The bridge did exist but it had been washed away and the only option was to construct a new one.
I The story:
The troops deployed at Sathraban discovered that a foot Bridge over the Jamian Nala in Poonch had been washed away due to incessant rains during the intervening night of 21 May and 01 Jun 21.
This Bridge was used by the Dera Migrants to cross the fast flowing Jamian Nala during their annual move across the Pir Panjals.
Due to the damaged bridge 7-8 Dera families with approximately 1500 livestock were stuck on their way to their respective Dhoks.
Battling inclement weather, torrential downpours and freezing temperatures at an altitude of over 9000 ft, troops swiftly got into action and constructed a 30 feet bridge in record time.
They simply did it, the span was measured and then started the woodwork. Initially perhaps they wondered how much wood would be required and then analyzed as to how much perfection they would attain. They hopped and skipped and then suddenly stood at the center, peeked at the water that flowed underneath and then they finally jumped on to the other side and lo! They had done it. This was a magical effort and for the Dera an astonishingly impossible thing made possible.
The Indian Army had once again stood in solidarity with the local Awam of UT Jammu and Kashmir by rendering selfless service to the needy during challenging times. The stranded Deras were seen off at the bridge by the troops as they moved on with their livestock but not before thanking the officers and the men who made this move possible.
This happened at a height of 9000 feet above the sea level and the temperature was freezing cold where hands get numb eyes watery as the icy winds whizz past the face.
The dramatic representation of Sathraban could go something like this, it is a place where the earth and sky come together in such a way that they bridge into one, and in such a place a person could put up her arms and find himself in heaven. But if you are stranded and the rain is coming in floods then it’s a hell zone as the Dera people found out!
This was not necessarily a classical rescue act but definitely was close to it. Had the boys of 5/8 Gurkha Rifles not been there it could have been sheer trouble for the tribesmen on the move. This is imbibed in the traditions of this historically great Battalion and the name does matter 8th Gurkha which is suffixed with it. These troops believe in one thing which is taught in their regimental center from where they groomed up and subsequently move in as drafts to the battalion, lighten the burdens of another there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. These tribesmen can never repay this gesture but each time they return summer after summer they will remember the troops who helped them across Jamia Nallah as it is called, once upon a time!