Indian Armed Forces: Saviours In Kashmir


Friday, 12 September 2014 | Hari Om | in Oped


Our Armed Forces have demonstrated great courage and dedication in their rescue efforts in Jammu & Kashmir

The situation in the flood-ravaged Jammu & Kashmir continues to remain very grim. The situation is all the more critical in the landlocked Kashmir valley and the suffering of the people is just unimaginable, as many parts of the valley, including Srinagar, are entirely submerged. The death toll has  crossed the 200-mark in the State, and more deaths are being reported from different parts of the worst-affected areas with each passing day. Then there is the extensive damage the floods have caused to the standing crops, property and crucial infrastructure, including roads and communication links.

The civil administration has raised its hands, as it has very limited resources at its command to meet the grave situation. But it alone cannot be held responsible. Successive Governments in the State are responsible for the death and destruction on an unprecedented scale, as none of them ever anticipated such a situation or took the required steps to meet such an eventuality.

Consequently, the failed establishment in the State has left everything to the care of our valiant jawans of the Army who are doing all that they can to evacuate the trapped people to safer places, staking their own invaluable lives. The Army has set up more than 60 medical camps at different locations and pressed into service over 100 boats to evacuate civilians from Srinagar and other badly affected towns and villages in the valley. Fifty two IAF aircrafts have also been pressed into service. No less than 212 columns of the Army and many Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy are involved in rescue operations and have so far evacuated more than one lakh persons braving all odds.

And the rescue operations are going on round-the-clock, as approximately four lakh more people are still trapped in Srinagar district alone, and whereabouts of hundreds of others are still not known. They are providing the affected and evacuated people everything, from life-saving drugs to food to drinking water to blankets to tents. They are pulling boats. They are carrying on their back the old and the infirm and leaving no stone unturned to save as many precious lives as possible. They are using social media and constructing floating bridges to restore connectivity and reach out to the people. They have restored traffic from Zojila Pass on Srinagar-Leh Highway after putting in all efforts during the past five days and they are now trying to reopen the vital Jammu-Srinagar national highway for traffic so that the necessary supplies could reach Srinagar and other places and hardships of the people are mitigated to some extent.

They, unlike separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and dreaded stone-throwers and so-called representatives of the people, are seen in the midst of trapped and hapless men, women and children, listening to their woeful tales, keeping their morale high and trying their level best to evacuate them.

They are doing a splendid duty to the nation under the inspiring leadership of Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who has declared that “the Indian Army will not move back to the barracks till the last man is brought to safety”. The local commanders are also working round-the-clock and guiding rescue operations. “Till the last human soul is evacuated to safety, our relief operation (Megh Rahat) will continue”, Lt Gen DS Hooda, General-Officer-Commanding of the Army’s Northern Command has reiterated. The Air Force, the Navy, the National Disaster Response Force, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force are all supplementing the efforts of the Army.

In fact, they, the Army and the Union Government of Mr Narendra Modi are working in tandem to control the situation and bring life back on rails as early as possible. Their efforts have been appreciated even by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, and bitter critic of the BJP, Mr Digvijaya Singh. Rising above party politics, they have placed on record their appreciation for Mr Modi, who has described the tragedy as a national-level disaster and assured the fullest possible help to the State Government at this critical juncture. They have said that the initiatives taken by the Prime Minister are in the right direction. It is hoped that Kashmir would be rehabilitated sooner than later.

The manner in which our jawans are conducting the rescue operations has won the hearts and minds of the people of the State, with the suffering people praising them and hailing them as saviours. “We would have lost our lives had the Army not come to our rescue”, they, without exception, are saying. “The State Government did nothing whatever to SAVE us; hats off to the Army”, they are adding.

It is not the first occasion that the Army has come  to the rescue of the people of the State in general and Kashmir valley in particular. The memories of what the Army and the Air Force did in Kashmir in 2005 are still too fresh to be forgotten. In 2005, a major earthquake had hit parts of Kashmir valley and Jammu province and caused extensive damage to life and property. The Army and the Air Force also had then done a commendable job.

The sad part of the story is that those who mattered, and continue to matter, in Kashmir, never ever appreciated the contributions and sacrifices of the Army. On the contrary, they never missed an opportunity to denounce and castigate the Army for no reason to PROMOTE their sinister anti-India agenda. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who himself was a bitter critic of the BJP-led NDA Government and the Army, perhaps is the only Kashmiri leader who has surprised the nation by commending the role of the Union Government and our disciplined, dedicated and committed Armed Forces. This augurs well for the future of the State.

(The writer is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu)

Source: Via WHN Publisher