Heart-rending visuals of rescue operations in the flood-ravaged state of Jammu and Kashmir over the last few days have put the spotlight on the defence forces of the nation, with all three -- the army, air force and the navy -- joining in.
While the armed forces were never popular among residents of the state that has witnessed widespread violence and protests against the government and its institutions, the valiant rescue operations in the worst floods to have hit the state in six decades may have definitely warmed hearts in the bitter cold of rains and floods.
More than 32,000 people have been rescued so far by the forces, and the Army Chief General Dalbir Singh has assured that "Army will not move back to the barracks till the last man is brought to safety."
— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) September 9, 2014
Through a series of tweets from the official Twitter handle of the Army, details of rescue operations were sent out, stating that over 200 army columns and 65 medical and engineering task forces were deployed, one lakh meals provided and 50,000 liters of drinking water given to those stranded.
This is also reportedly the first time that the elite commandos of the Indian Navy have joined in the rescue operation, and saved more than 200 people on Monday. Specialized naval diving teams have also been kept on stand-by by the Navy.
While the toll has touched 170, thousands of lives have been saved thanks to relentless efforts by the forces along with the National Disaster Response Fore (NDRF) to evacuate stranded people, with 2,000 evacuated from Srinagar alone.
"The Army has deployed around 20,000 soldiers in its Operation Megh Rahat to rescue stranded people, with 215 columns, 65 medical teams and 15 engineer task forces spread out in the Kashmir valley," said additional director general (public information) Major-General Shokin Chauhan tweeted.
The IAF has used 52 aircrafts and helicopters in the rescue, flying close to 200 sorties to airlift 1,800 people and provide 315 tonnes of relief material.
The telecommunication networks have broken down completely, further aggravating the misery of residents and hampering rescue operations. According to reports, the Army has been airlifting BSNL loads to Srinagar in order to restore connectivity to the cut off region.
There was some relief since Monday as the rains abated, allowing smoother rescue operations.
This is the worst natural calamity to have hit Kashmir over the last six decades, but unparalled rescue efforts in the face of disaster helped keep the toll low.
Visuals of officers airlifting people stranded on rooftops for days without food and water through helicopters and helping people cross raging waters have further put in perspective the crucial role the armed forces have played in minimizing deaths in the floods.
The defence forces and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in for praise from the Opposition, with Congress leaders such as Digvijay Singh commending the forces and the PM for the rescue efforts.
Commend the rescue by DMRF, Army, Police and Security Forces in J&K and also GOI and PM for prompt action and reaching out to people in POK.
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) September 8, 2014