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Updated: Jan 18, 2023

“ I was startled to hear the sound of cloudburst and the cries of distress of the people that followed while I was enjoying my evening tea absent mindedly, thinking about how it had been a busy day”.

Our outfit was tasked the security of Yatris during the Amarnath Yatra which started on June the 30, 2022. My innate Suraj rushed in, while I was still tying up my laces to go and find out about the events that might have unfolded,he cried out loud that we need to move quickly. That look of horror on his face didn’t make me ask any questions, and we both hurriedly rushed outside to see the frightful sight of yatris in complete distress and chaos. Several devotees were already washed away in the cloudburst and something had to be done very very quickly.

Apart from keeping people safe from adversaries at borders, we take pride in helping fellow countrymen in times of difficulties. This resolve has been proven time and again through seamless and dedicated efforts put in to help people during the times of predicament. This catastrophe was required to be combated with the rescue effort of gigantic proportion during the cloudburst of Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra (SANJY).

For foresightedness and preparation to meet the unforeseen events, we were well geared up to undertake disaster management tasks, responding beyond call of duty at all times.

We all know that Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra (SANJY) to the Holy Cave is an annual event wherein pilgrims from all parts of the country arrive to worship the sacred Shiv Lingam. The Yatra officially commenced on June 30 with the traditional puja. The situation in Kashmir is volatile & dynamic and the Yatra opened for the civil populace after a gap of two years making SANJY-2022 vulnerable to any unwarranted incident, which would in turn, give adversaries a platform to disturb normalcy in Kashmir. The Army had laid due emphasis on the rescue training and had procured certain critical rescue eqpt which came in handy while carrying out the relief and rescue during this calamity.

In spite of all preparedness and precautions for the eventualities, a natural calamity struck just before the sunset.Heavy rains triggered a sliding of heavy boulders and debris in the Nandi nullah near the holy cave on 08 July, in which several yatris were washed away due to flash flood in the cave complex. All yatris were terrified witnessing the unfolding events and the scene was full of fright and panic and on the other hand, people were under confusion and chaos. The Indian Army in conjunction with CAPF and NDRF teams launched a rescue operation that resulted in the successful evacuation of 11 critically injured yatris and the rescue of 14 deceased at the calamity site on night of 08th of July itself. Quick appreciation of the unfolding situation was done to push the resources required resulting in speedy action. Speed was essential in the rescue because the debris and boulders that came down from the nullah were quickly solidifying, making it difficult to extricate the yatris. After successful rescue of yatris, they were provided hot food and potable drinking water as they waited to be evacuated by army air effort. One episode of this entire process that displayed highest amount of communal harmony was, upon seeing the selfless and relentless service of Security Forces personnel in rescue operations at Holy Cave, several Muslim brothers who were present at the location, declined to go back to their homes for Eid Celebration, but stayed and joined their hands in assisting the rescue event to help their Hindu brothers. An outstanding synergy between the civil agencies and security forces was displayed during the rescue which resulted into quick actions and an early extrication of yatris.

We always volunteer for any action, and never back off or gave a second thought when it came to helping the civil population, and I take lot of pride in saying that. Our undeterred devotion and aim to serve the people anytime and at all times is firm and no matter what, this dedication will live on. I share this piece wiomptly and those happy faces of Yatris after rescue which was priceless and made my day and also remind people that we will be there for them always and in any situation, and will have their back in times of difficulties.

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