September 10, 2014 12:57:50 pm
Army chief General Dalbir Singh Wednesday said that his men will not rest till every stranded civilian in Jammu and Kashmir is rescued. Travelling on a rescue boat, Singh told The Indian Express that the major challenge was “reaching out to people”. “The challenge is to reach every last point. Because of the water current, the rescue operation is affected at some points… But it is our duty and we will rescue everyone who is still trapped. We have been working day and night,” Singh said.
On spotting a fallen Buddha statue at Badami Baug cantonment in Srinagar, Singh said — almost symbolically — that the “Buddha has fallen, but not broken”. Accompanied by Northern Army Commander Lt General D S Hooda, General Officer Commanding HQ 15 Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha and other senior military officials, Singh took a 30-minute ferry to Shivpora area of Srinagar — one of the worst affected places in the Valley.
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As people looked out of their windows and saw a boat ferrying a VIP, they waved to Singh, who waved back. But when he asked two young women if they wanted to be rescued, they refused. “People don’t want to leave their houses now,” said one of the officers. While house in the city are submerged in water 8-10 feet deep, the situation at the cantonment is no different.
While officers’ quarters and offices are submerged, hundreds of Army personnel are isolated in various parts of the Valley. “We have not got time to assess our own damage. Our first priority is to rescue people. Once we take civilians to safety, the safety of our own people will be looked after. We will not rest till the last man is rescued,” Singh said.
Singh, who also visited Sopore, Manasbal, Baramulla and other areas, interacted with rescued civilians in the Badami Baug cantonment and assured them that the Army is doing its best. Asked about mounting anger among people waiting to be rescued, Singh said, “Impatience among people is understandable. Nevertheless, despite the anger, our job is to help people… People are cooperating with the Army.”
Singh also confirmed that two Army personnel who had gone missing on the night of September 6 in Phulwama during a rescue operation “have been lost”. He added that “last night, our boat capsized. We have rescued six while three are still missing”. Singh said that apart from rescue operations, the focus was on restoring communication and road network. “We have engaged our engineers. Task forces are coming with the equipment. As far as hygiene and sanitation is concerned, we have mobilised medical teams,” Singh said.
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