Kargil Special: Dras transformed from hell to heaven after Kargil War

By: Richa Bajpai
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Dras transforms to heaven after Kargil
Dras, July 23: On 3rd May, 1999, a shepherd living on the border informed the Indian Army that some strangers were seen on the border. Upon the shepherd's warning, the Indian Army sped up the patrolling and found out that the Pakistani forces had crossed the LoC and entered India. And then the war began. [Also read: All about Kargil War Memorial at Dras]

That time, five Indian soldiers were killed in the silence of the mountains and after a week, it was found out that Pakistani troops had entered Dras, Mushkoh and Kaksar. Finding out about the Pakistani troops' infiltration got a bit late as the villages were isolated and people there lived in their own world and hardly commuted. It was a world of their own.

Today, the face of Dras has changed for the good. A beautiful road on National Highway 1, on which people can travel amidst lovely scenery around. The village where there were no telephone network 15 years back, today flaunts not just mobile connectivity, but also DTH services and even internet broadband. [Also read: Man who first noticed Pakistani troops in Kashmir]

Dras no more hell

To boost tourism, government has implemented several schemes for the convenience of tourists. The Dras which had just two to four primary schools, now boasts of even colleges. Hospitals and other basic facilities have also developed in the village.

Zakir, a cyber cafe owner in Dras, says that people felt very lonely and aloof here in 1999. Now with the wave of development, people have got the will to do someting and make it big. [Read: 'I started running in fear till an army jawan stopped me']

Shafiq Ahmed, a grocery store owner, says that employment opportunities have imporved drastically in Dras after tourism development here. Since it is called the gateway of Ladakh, tourists always pass by here and there is always some activity going on here. [Also read: Indian Army celebrates the 15th anniversary of Kargil war]

In regional language, 'Baaltic Dras' means hell. When we asked about this to Shafiq, he said,"15 years back if you came here, you would have found this place a hell. But the way the Jammu and Kashmir government has developed the place, you will never feel that way again. But yes we would feel much better if the government took an effort to develop Dras as a major tourism centre."

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