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17 ITBP jawans trapped in Chamba
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla/Chamba, February 12
With still no communication with the 17 Indian Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel posted in the Kehar sector of Chamba, a 10-member rescue team from the Mountaineering Institute will trek to the Saunthit post located at a height of 10,000 feet tomorrow.

Deputy Commissioner Chamba Rahul Anand informed that since getting to the place by chopper was proving to be difficult due to inclement weather, the team would cover the 12 km stretch from Sangini on foot to reach the location of the ITBP post. The team will comprise members from the centres of the Mountaineering Institute located at Manali and Bharmour.

There has been no contact over the wireless with the 17 ITBP personnel posted here. “There has been unusual snow this year, otherwise this is a permanent post which does not move its location to lower height during the winters,” informed Mr Anand. The area has almost 11 feet snow because of frequent and heavy snowfall this winter. The post is located at a distance of almost 120 km from the district headquarters of Chamba.

Mr Anand said they were quite confident that the 17 personnel were safe, as they have adequate ration stocks, kerosene and warm clothing with them. “The fact that there has been no contact with the post for the past three days is cause of concern and as such the rescue team is being dispatched to check that they are all safe,” he remarked.

The ITBP chopper could not take off today morning also due to bad weather. The officials said that since it was uncertain for how long the weather remains bad, the rescue team would reach the area on foot.

The ITBP post is located at a height of 10,000 feet at Saunthit in the Kehar area of Chamba district bordering Jammu and Kashmir. Both the ITBP and the Himachal police personnel are guarding the over 250 km-long border that Himachal Pradesh shares with the militancy-infested state.

Some ITBP and state police posts located at a height of more than 10,000 feet shift to lower areas in winters, as there is very heavy snowfall at these altitudes. It is the first time that there has been such heavy snowfall at Saunthit, where the post is located.

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