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Rescue ops in Uttarakhand personal, not a duty, say jawans

June 24, 2013 16:40 IST

Rescue ops in Uttarakhand personal, not a duty, say jawans

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"Yeh kaam hamare ghar ka hai, duty ka nahin (The rescue work we are doing is personal work for us and not just a part of official duty)," an Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawan, who hails from Kumaon region, said.

Senior officials of the border guarding force, which has three battalions in Uttarakhand as part of securing the Sino-Indian frontier, are witnessing unusual show of character by their troops in the face of tough adversity caused by heavy rains and flash floods in the state.

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Image: The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel rescue stranded people across a flooded river after heavy rains in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand
Photographs: ITBP/Reuters

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Rescue ops in Uttarakhand personal, not a duty, say jawans

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"Many troops have refused to go on leave. Those on leave came back after the tragedy broke out. We can understand their emotions, as a large chunk of our force comprises boys from Uttarakhand region," Commanding Officer of the 8th ITBP battalion G S Chauhan told PTI.

"About 30 per cent of the boys who are carrying out rescue works in various parts of the state have been born and brought up in this region only.

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Image: A woman is assisted by a soldier as she leaves an army helicopter during a rescue operation at Joshimat
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Rescue ops in Uttarakhand personal, not a duty, say jawans

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“Sometimes, I have to stop them from working and have to persuade to rest and recuperate. They take this work as their personal task," Chauhan said.

ITBP jawan Chet Lal refuses to go back home as he rushes to catch a helicopter flying from Gauchar after gathering food, water and medicines for people who are trapped in Jangalchhati.

"Why would I get tired? It's sad to see what is happening to my people here. I never thought I would one day be a small part of those men in uniform who are now providing succour to the needy. But I am happy and proud that I am doing what I am doing," Lal, who hails Paudi in the state, said.

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Image: A woman cries in pain she is carried away by soldiers from an army helicopter during a rescue operation at Joshimath
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Rescue ops in Uttarakhand personal, not a duty, say jawans

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For the ITBP Assistant Commandant Jag Mohan, a high fever and hospitalisation were no deterrents to join his men involved in the rescue tasks since June 18. "I asked my commanding officer thrice to let me join duty but he kept refusing, keeping in mind my health. I finally took a motorcycle from Chamoli and joined my unit," Mohan said.

He is now commanding a small unit of ITBP men which has been placed at the joint forces helipad here for receiving and helping rescued people who are de-boarded from choppers.

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Image: Soldiers carry boxes of relief supplies as an army helicopter flies overhead during a rescue operation at Joshimath
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Rescue ops in Uttarakhand personal, not a duty, say jawans

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CO Chauhan is from Dehradun and he understands his men very closely. "When I tell someone to proceed on leave and that he would be suitably replaced by another jawan, they make a humble submission to which I have no reply," Chauhan said.

The boys say 'saab chhutti likhit me le lo par mujhey yahin rakho' (I will apply for leave on paper, but let me stay here), the CO said, adding, "Hence, I have stopped fighting with them."

The ITBP has put on job close to 1,000 men for relief and rescue tasks in various parts of the state and out of the estimated 3,000 personnel (three battalions) present in Uttarakhand, about 40 per cent are locals.


Image: A policeman carries an old woman on his back during rescue operations in Govindghat
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Monsoon wreaks havoc in Uttarakhand

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