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Thursday, 11 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 11 Sep 2014

Tempers flare in Valley as death toll crosses 300
Angry victims hurl stones at rescue teams, IAF choppers
Mass evacuations under way as water recedes
Tribune News Service

Jammu/ Srinagar, September 10
First signs of the magnitude of the tragedy caused by massive floods in Jammu and Kashmir have started emerging with the death toll crossing 300 and tens of thousands still trapped across the Himalayan state.

To minimise the losses, the Army, Indian Air Force, National Disaster Response Force, marine commandoes and many unknown number of volunteers have stepped up the rescue and relief operations in marooned parts of Srinagar. Using motorised boats, the rescuers have entered danger zones such as Raj Bagh and Gogji Bagh where the water level is still over 20 feet.

The “invisible” response of the state administration in the relief and rescue operations has drawn flak from people across the Valley.

Stung by the sharp criticism, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today boarded a chopper and threw some eatables from it in the flood-hit areas. The Chief Minister took the step after people stoned his house on Tuesday evening, flaying the administration for not doing enough for flood victims. Blaming the administration, angry residents hurled stones at rescue teams and IAF choppers at several places.

The greatest fear at the moment in the Valley is that the anger against the administration could mount and there could be a law and order problem once the flood waters recede and the extent of the damage is visible.

The residents seem to be not convinced by Omar’s statements claiming that the government had forewarned them on the impending danger by making announcements from mosques and police vehicles on Saturday night. The question Srinagar residents are asking is that where they could have gone. The government had not set up any camps.

The residents say while the top officers were housed at safer places such as Gupkar Road and the Chief Minister has shifted to Nehru guest house, the people were left stranded in floods.

Undeterred by the hostile reaction from flood victims, the forces continued to evacuate people and move them to relief camps.

The death toll has reached 300 and the officials were unsure about the number of survivors in areas that are still under water. South Kashmir has borne the maximum brunt and the number of those dead and injured would be known only after water level goes down. This may take weeks. Many houses have started collapsing in some of the areas after remaining in water for more than a week.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag personally supervised the relief operations and said his troops would make sure that all survivors are brought to safer ground. In Jammu region, the Army and the IAF have started reaching the inaccessible areas, supplying relief material to the people and building bridges in Poonch, Jammu, Rajouri and Reasi to overcome the problem of connectivity.
 125 choppers, aircraft engaged in relief and rescue operations
‘Rahat-II’ going on war footing; 60 tons of eatables dispatched on Wednesday
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 10
Over 125 helicopters and aircraft have been pressed into service by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to evacuate people across the flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir and provide food material to the cut-off areas of the state under the operation ‘Rahat-II’.

This is one of the biggest rescue operations launched by the Air Force, Air Commodore PE Patange, Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station, Jammu, told The Tribune.

Operation ‘Rahat-I’ was launched during the Uttarakhand catastrophe last year.

The operation ‘Rahat-II’ is going on the war-footing with the Air Force carriers operating 24x7 to rescue the trapped people from different parts of the Valley and the Jammu region.

During the operation, food items and water is also being dispatched to the cut-off areas of the state to save people from starvation.

Long queues of trucks and other vehicles were witnessed outside the Jammu Air Force station today, waiting for their turn to unload food materials.

Keeping in view the unavailability of food in the cut-off areas, the authorities today dispatched over 60 tons of eatables to Kashmir and some remote areas of Jammu province from here.

“Sixty one helicopters and 65 transport air-craft have been pressed into the service to intensify the operation ‘Rahat-II’,” said Air Commodore Patange.

In the cut-off areas of Jammu province, choppers are being employed to air drop food packets and water bottle as inhabitants in these parts have been confronting scarcity of drinking water.

“Only yesterday we dispatched 12 tons of mineral water bottles for the affected areas,” the officer said, adding that freshly-cooked food was also dispatched to the affected areas.

“We have pressed into one chopper into service in the Banihal area, one in Reasi and one in Mahore to evacuate the marooned persons and to provide food to the trapped people,” he said.

Air Commodore Patange said mineral water, cooked food, bread and butter, packed juices, bananas, milk and milk powder was today airdropped in some inaccessible areas.

He added that similar type of air-bridging operations were launched from the big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Jammu and Kashmir Flood Rescue Just Proved That the Indian Army Are Kings of Social Media Too!
For those of you who think social media is a just a wasted space for whiling away time and looking at cat pictures, the Indian Army may just change your opinion and show all the lost internet souls the way it is done. The devastating floods in the Kashmir Valley have brought out the Army's resources to the fore, as evident by everyday stories of heroism and bravery. But it has also revealed the social savvy side of the force, surely giving a lesson on how to use the social media effectively for well, a social cause.

Through Facebook and Twitter, the Army is maintaining a constant flow of information and updates about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. And they are topping it up with instant reaction to a call of help from anyone connecting to them via these mediums.
J&K floods: Army vehicles pelted with stones in Srinagar; people's anger justified, Omar Abdullah says
SRINAGAR: Terming the flood situation in the flood-ravaged Kashmir valley as "very serious", Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said he understood the anger of the people affected by the "unprecedented" catastrophe.

Omar also dismissed criticism of his government in the handling of the flood crisis, saying joint efforts involving various agencies including his administration are being made to help people tide over the crisis.
Over 200 people have been killed in floods, landslides and house collapses triggered by torrential rains. Four lakh people still remain stranded. Omar on Tuesday described the floods that has devastated the state as the worst in 109 years.

Asked about the criticism of the state government over the handling of the situation, Omar said if there was heckling, "People are alive to shout slogans, I have no problems."

"It means that these people have been rescued, they have been accommodated somewhere. Where they have been accommodated is not my concern," he said.

"I understand the anger(of people). I don't grudge them. They have gone through difficult times."

Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was heckled in one of the relief camps.

In another incident, Army vehicles loaded with supplies were pelted with stones as they tried to make their way through Srinagar.
Omar said the situation was unprecedented. "The focus is entirely on making available all assets. such situations are handled through joint efforts... It is a very serious humanitarian situation in terms of rescue and relief of the people.

"... It is an unprecedented situation. In nobody's life time, we remember water to be at this level. It is something nobody could have prepared for. The efforts of the central government, army, air force and state government and operations have been ramped up. Supplies are arriving and we are doing our best to rescue people," he said.

The chief minister said there was no "weakness" in coordination between the forces on ground and the state government is working together with the armed forces.

"I am in touch with the Army, the Navy and trying to make sure that the right stuff reaches the right place and we are able to achieve the stuff properly. We are not able to communicate with the people," he said.

He said the main source of worry for him was the likely spread of diseases after the water level in flood-hit areas recedes.
Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag on Wednesday said the forces would continue to work through "day and night" to render relief to the affected people in Kashmir.

He said the flood situation in Kashmir is "improving" and stressed upon the need to supply affected people with food, water and medicine.
In the state capital to oversee the massive rescue exercise launched by the Army, he expressed confidence that situation will improve "quite a lot" in two to three days.

"It (situation) is improving. Water level is receding. I was here three days back and from then to now the water level has come down four to five feet or six feet at some places. So things are improving," he told reporters.

Suhag, however, emphasised on the need to carry relief material to the rescued people.

"What is required is we need to supply food, water and medicine to people who need that," he said, adding that Army was taking full care of people under its watch and augmented its medical facilities to meet the challenge.

He said the road network within the valley would be motorable for lighter vehicles by tomorrow and the broken-down communication network be restored to a large extent in two to three days.

Army had rescued close to 50,000 people by this morning, he added.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) reiterated that the Army would continue relief operations till the last person was rescued, a defence spokesman said here.

The COAS was briefed that as many as 239 Army columns have been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir along with 80 medical teams, he said, adding that a total of 58,000 persons have been rescued and 9,550 provided medical aid in Kashmir.

In Srinagar, the Armyhas deployed additional 89 boat teams, he said.

So far, more than 9,500 persons have been rescued from Srinagar and 2,000 have been provided shelter in Badamibagh Cantonment, he added.

As many as 355 persons requiring immediate medical attention have been evacuated by ArmyAviation helicopters till now, the spokesperson said.
Army to Test Fire Agni-I Missile on Thursday

BALASORE: The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of Indian Army is all set to carry out a fresh user trial of 700-km range nuclear capable missile Agni-I from a defence base off the Odisha coast on Thursday.

The missile was earlier planned to be tested on Wednesday.

Defence sources said as the missile has already been inducted in the armed forces, this will be a limited stock production (LSP) test for which the missile has been randomly selected from a bunch of missiles. The test will be

conducted from the Wheeler Island test facility of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).

While preparation has been completed for the test, heavy security arrangements also have been made along the sea coast. This test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user (Army), said a defence scientist associated with the programme. There were considerable improvements in its re-entry technology and manoeuvrability since Agni's first trial.

“The missile with full operational configuration and dummy warhead will be fired from the launching complex-IV of the ITR in between 9 am to 12 noon,” informed a source.

Commander-in-Chief of SFC Lieutenant General Amit Sharma is expected to witness the launch from mission control room set up at the Island. After visiting Puri on Wednesday, he is slated to land at Dhamra at about 9 am on Thursday.

Apart from him, Scientific Advisor to defence Minister and DRDO Chief Avinash Chander is also expected to witness the test firing.

The Agni-I is an antiquated short-range and surface based ballistic missile in the Agni series. It has a strike range of 700-900 km. Compared it its longer-range cousins, its height is just 15 metres and it is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second. This missile was first test-fired on January 25, 2002 and since then several trails have been conducted.

It is designed to bridge the gap between indigenously built short-range Prithvi, already deployed in the army, and medium range Agni-II that has a range of more than 2,000 km. The DRDO had launched the Agni project in 1983 as part of the country's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
Army guns down 3 intruders in flood-hit Kashmir

In a major counter-infiltration operation, the Army on Wednesday morning gunned down 3 militants in Kashmir Valley's Keran sector.

A Defence Ministry spokesperson confirmed the incident, saying the intruders were killed by the armed forces in a bid to cross the Line of Control.

A large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from them.

The counter-insurgency operation has taken place at a time when the Valley is hit by flash floods.

Nearly 200 people have died and thousands are stranded across the state, including Srinagar.

The Army and NDRF have launched a massive rescue mission, airlifting the affected people to safety.

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