Poonch: With roads blocked, no access to markets and a frozen water supply, villagers in Jammu and Kashmir are struggling to carry out their daily chores.
With streams freezing over and hillsides blanketed in snow, the residents of Sawjian in the state’s Poonch district huddled around bonfires, wrapped in many layers of clothing to cope with an intense spell of cold, not seen in many years.
“It is after very long that we have had such an intense spell of cold. It has snowed a few times as well. This unprecedented cold is hitting the children and the elderly the most. Water has frozen in our taps, and we are facing severe problems,” said Mohammad Subhan Tantri, a 73 year-old villager.
The cold took its toll on the health of the locals, many of whom fell sick and were admitted to the local hospital.
For the younger residents of Sawjian, this has been the coldest winter they have seen in their lives, and even their elders had to reach far into their memories to remember a colder season.
"It has snowed so heavily after around 40 years. Not only are pipes getting jammed, the cold is killing people as well. Even our elders are saying that this is the coldest year in nearly six decades," said another local resident, Mohammad Aslam Bhat.
The children tried to beat the cold by warming themselves around the bonfire.
Heavy snowfall in the region this year has left locals to bear the brunt of the continuing cold as closure of the highway has impeded travel and food supplies.
Snowfall in this region, among others, has had a direct impact as temperatures plummeted in many parts of the country such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.