“Words are not enough to thank them for what they have done for everyone, I just wanted the people here and across the country to know. I am really very grateful to them” — These were the words of one Aryan Ahmad for the Indian Army, who, in a massive operation, rescued more than 2,500 tourists stuck in the upper ridges of Darjeeling and Sikkim due to heavy snowfall.
On December 28, 2018, Darjeeling, its outskirts and the upper ridges of Gangtok in Sikkim received snowfall, reportedly for the first time since February 14, 2008. Tourists were returning from Nathu La Pass and Tsomgo (Changu) lake when it began snowing at around 4.30 pm.
The snow blocked roads, leaving nearly 300 to 400 vehicles stranded at various points on Jawahar Lal Nehru Road, East Sikkim District Magistrate Kapil Meena was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The Army was immediately called in to help shift tourists to a camp in 17th Mile area. Arrangments were also made to transfer them to safer areas.
“#IndianArmy rescued more than 2500 civilians stuck in more than 400 vehicles around Nathula, Sikkim due to heavy snowfall. All were provided food, shelter & medical care last night. #AlwaysWithYou,” the Army tweeted.
#Relief #Rescue Operations.
Heavy snowfall left many tourists stranded around 17 Mile & Nathu La, Sikkim. #IndianArmy offered spontaneous help to people providing warm clothing, shelter, hot meals, medical aid & carrying out physical rescue missions. #AlwaysWithYou pic.twitter.com/GZ9ptyZBVR
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) December 29, 2018
“#Relief #Rescue Operations. Heavy snowfall left many tourists stranded around 17 Mile & Nathu La, Sikkim. #IndianArmy offered spontaneous help to people providing warm clothing, shelter, hot meals, medical aid & carrying out physical rescue missions. #AlwaysWithYou,” it posted on the micro-blogging site a day later.
As a sign of gratitude to the forces for saving thousands of lives, Ahmad, who was present there and rescued from Changu lake, in a letter, said, “I am Proud to share these pictures of our Army, they rescued 2,800 people from Changu/Tsongmo lake and kept all peoples at there 17mile TCP camp.”
“I too was present and was the victim of this sudden snowfall. When people had lost all hope of remaining alive,, at around 6 pm, our army launched a rescue operation whole night and rescued all the tourists who were trapped at Changu and in the nearby Maba Mandir,” the letter said.
“Now I really don’t fear, for I know our soldiers are alive and with us. They shared their bed, sleeping bags and everyone stayed outside in -9° just to keep us safe and alive. Words are not enough to thank them for what they have done for everyone. I just wanted the people here and across the country to know, I am really very grateful to them,” it added.