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Friday, 12 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 12 Sep 2014

She was on her deathbed, but then came the Indian Army
Amir Karim Tantray and Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 11
Rabia’s liver was on the verge of collapse till yesterday. Famished, running high fever, urine infection and jaundice, she has been given a new lease of life by the Indian Army.
Airlifted from flood-ravaged Awantipura to 92 Base Hospital in Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar, the 16-year-old girl from Tral area in Pulwama district is showing signs of improvement now.

“Before being admitted to GB Pant paediatric hospital, Rabia was being treated at Tral’s sub-district hospital. But her condition was deteriorating every passing minute. Then the Army came to my daughter’s rescue. I am falling short of words in the praise of soldiers,” said Rabia’s father Abdul Rashid.

He said: “I had lost all hope. I thought I will not be able to see my daughter alive again. But now she is recuperating and I am confident that she will soon rejoin us at Tral.”

“All I remember is that I had high fever, urine infection and was admitted to a hospital at Tral. I have no clue about what happened thereafter. After regaining consciousness, I found myself in the Army hospital,” Rabia told the Tribune.

Doctors said she was critical when brought to the hospital but was now stable.

Besides Rabia, the Army has rescued at least 40 children from GB Pant paediatric hospital. Soldiers even came across kids, as young as four days old, who had already died and evacuated their mortal remains. Soldiers have successfully shifted all patients and attendants of the hospital to safer places.
Army gears up for possible floods in N Kashmir
Wullar Lake swells above danger mark
Over 2,000 persons shifted to five schools at Safapora in Ganderbal district
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria & Amir Karim Tantray
Tribune News Service

Badami Bagh Cantonment (Srinagar), September 11
Gradually shifting gear from rescue to relief operations in south Kashmir, the Army and the Air Force have geared up for possible floods in north Kashmir.

The Jhelum, its tributaries and the Ferozepur Nullah flow via the Wullar Lake in north Kashmir before entering Pakistan. The level of the constantly rising lake was recorded at 53.3 feet at 6 am on Thursday, well above danger mark of 46.2 feet.

“Keeping in view the rising water level in the lake and to deal with the potential crisis, we shifted 2,400 persons to five schools in Safapora. They are being provided food and water,” said Lt Gen Subrata Saha, GOC of the Chinar Corps (15 Corps), on Thursday.
Lt Gen Saha said, “The water level in other areas close to the Jhelum is receding since this morning. It was 18.5 feet in Sangam. It has come down between eight and nine feet in Srinagar. It has reduced marginally from 18 feet to 17.8 feet in the Sumbal area of north Kashmir.”

He said the Jhelum breached its banks at a number of places, which inundated Srinagar. “The water level in marooned areas is still between 10 and 12 feet,” he said. He said heavy and incessant rain for three consecutive days from September 4 was so intense that the Army could not carry out a single sortie.

Villages like Asthil and Gudda in south Kashmir were inundated. Giving an example of the intensity of rain, he said the reservoir of an under-construction micro-hydel project caved in near Bella Salamabad, close to Rampur in Baramulla.

“The gushing waters washed away one of our posts at Kakapora in Pulwama. Vehicles were swept away. A rescue boat with nine persons on board capsized. Our men tried their best, but could rescue only seven,” said Lt Gen Saha.

He said the 15 Corps brought personnel both from south Kashmir and north Kashmir. He said boats were brought from Jodhpur, Jalandhar and Delhi, among others. He added that the Army, in tandem with the Air Force and state agencies, rescued 44,554 persons in Kashmir till 6 am on Thursday.

“Medical aid was provided to 5,685 patients in the military hospital and medical camps set up at Panzgam, Awantipora, Sambur, Arapal, Sangam, Kelung and Butingu till last evening,” he said.

He said the Army was gradually shifting from rescue to relief operations in south Kashmir. “We have evacuated a majority of people in south Kashmir. Those not willing to leave their houses unattended are being provided relief material like food, water and medicines,” he said.

The Army rescued 26 Pakistani nationals, two women from the USA and New Zealand, around 10 Malaysian trekkers and a teacher and his students from Ladakh, he added. It also rescued 160 sportspersons from Bakshi Stadium, of which 55 were evacuated and the rest being take care of, he said.

He said the Army had lost two men in rescue operations. In response to a query, he said people got anxious in a natural calamity of such magnitude. “They have lost everything. It is a manifestation of their anxiety and worries. Every single person matters to us,” he added.
Agni-I missile successfully test-fired

Balasore (Odisha), September 11
India today successfully test-fired its indigenously built nuclear capable Agni-I missile, which has a strike range of 700 km, from a test range off Odisha coast as part of a user trial by the Army.

The surface-to-surface and single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at about 11.11 hrs from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here, Defence Research and Development Organisation spokesman Ravi Kumar Gupta said. — PTI
India's Bharat Forge starts joint venture with Israel's Elbit System to produce better defence equipments
New Delhi: India suffered loss of life as well as property in the famous Kargil war of 1999. Thereafter, the controversial Bofors cannons were used in the war.

These cannons proved their capability during the battle but in sometime, Indian Army realised that they do not have enough ammunition for the same.

On the demand of army, Indian Defence Ministry contacted Baba Kalyani and his company Bharat Forge. The army ordered the company to make one lakh shells for Bofors.

The company fulfilled the order in very short period of time and it will not be wrong if said that Bharat Forge played major role in the victory of Kargil war of 1999. A Swedish company named Bofors AB sold the Bofors to India and it has remained controversial scam since then due to illegal kickbacks.

Bharat Forge Group has developed a war machine which will soon be tested by the army. As Narendra Modi led BJP government has decided to give priority to private companies, Bharat Forge Group got a chance to prove its excellence.

According to a report, the company has started a joint venture with an Israeli company named Elbit System. The venture will work on 155mm howitzer modernisation program in the beginning.

The chief of Bharat Forge, Baba Kalyani said that their cannon is much better than bofors when it comes to firing. According to Kalyani, the new cannons use 52 calibre rounds compared to 39 calibre rounds of bofors. these can even fire using wire unlike bofors.
In Srinagar, Floodwaters Recede, but Anger Remains
SRINAGAR, Kashmir — As people waited here for rescue on rooftops and balconies, fear was giving way on Wednesday to anger and resentment over what some saw as a slow response to flooding that began last week and has left hundreds dead in northern India and eastern Pakistan.

In the Wazir Bagh neighborhood, where the water was about five feet at its deepest point, residents watched rescue boats make their way to another area where the waters were higher. Some said only the politically connected were being evacuated. Others complained that the rescue teams were incompetent.

One woman, Jaspreet Kaur, 25, was taken by boat to a tractor that slowly brought her and about 50 other people to dry land. She said that she was trapped on the roof of her house with her grandmother for five days, and that they had run out of food.

Roughly 500 more families are awaiting rescue in her neighborhood, she said.
The army said Wednesday that the water level in Srinagar had receded three to four feet from a peak of about 18 feet. But the situation in the city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State, remained grim, O. P. Singh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force, told the Indian news channel NDTV.
On Monday, Mr. Singh said, an aggressive crowd tried to take boats and equipment from the rescue team, and one member was hurt in the ensuing struggle.

In much of the violence-scarred Kashmir Valley, where a militant separatist movement has been largely vanquished but a heavy security presence remains, interactions with the military and law enforcement are often strained.

“They are pelting our boats with their stones,” said Kishore Prasad, a spokesman for the Central Reserve Police Force, at its quarters in the Rambagh neighborhood of Srinagar. He said it would take at least two more days to rescue the thousands still stranded in Srinagar.

Mr. Prasad said one problem with the rescue operations was a lack of coordination among the agencies working on the ground, which include the National Disaster Response Force, the police and the armed forces. The army says it has rescued more than 76,500 people from Jammu and Kashmir since the flooding began, and cellphone connectivity has begun to be restored, with 10 mobile towers put back in service in Srinagar, according to an employee of Bharat Sanchar Nigam, an Indian state-run telecommunications company.
But relief has not come fast enough for some, who complain that the state government is nowhere to be seen.

On Wednesday, residents were handling much of the relief effort for those who had made it to relative safety.

At a mosque where residents had set up a relief camp, Ghulam Hassan was coordinating efforts to feed 2,000 people. He said the volunteers were on their own. “India says that we are theirs, and Pakistan says that we are theirs, but we really don’t belong to anyone,” he said, referring to the disputed Kashmiri border. “If we did, someone would come to help us.”

Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, defended the state government’s response in an interview that NDTV aired on Wednesday.

“I understand the anger, I understand the frustration, but it’s not true that nothing is happening,” Mr. Abdullah said.
J&K floods: IAF deploys world's biggest chopper MI-26 for rescue operations
Srinagar: While the flood waters recede from some of the affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no let up in the efforts of defence forces and rescue teams to bring people to safer places. The Indian Air Force on Wednesday brought in MI-26, the world's biggest chopper, to rescue the lakhs still stranded in the flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir. Nearly 17 IAF transport aircraft have been deployed for rescue operations even as the death toll crossed 200 in the worst floods witnessed by the state in six decades.

The MI-26 will be operating from Awantipur in Kashmir and will prove to be very effective in flood relief, a defence release said. "This will also assist in infrastructure development as it can carry heavy machinery and load in single sortie. This is world's biggest helicopter and can lift 30 tonnes of load," it said.

The Army has also deployed 215 columns for rescue and relief operations. Over 90,000 people have been rescued in the joint operation by Army, IAF, National Disaster Response Force and state police. The Army has deployed 30 helicopters in Kashmir including ALH and MI-17.

For locals, the Army, IAF, NDRF are real heroes as they battle floods to save life of others. One of the heroic tales is of Wing Commander Abhijit Bali who came back to Srinagar to rescue his family. After the rescue he walked and swam 20 kilometres back to the base.

Bali said, "I was in Nagpur when I got a call from my family that they think they won't survive. So I came here. The chopper took me to my house. I swung on a rope, banged the window a few times and finally broke it down. I entered my house and rescued my family members.

"I helped a few of my neighbours also. I made my way here swimming, walking and I thought I won't survive. That's when the Indian Army came to my rescue. I'll tell people not to lose hope. It is difficult but all is not lost. We can fight it. We need your support and materials that you can send, because it's worse than they think," he added.

Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag also visited Srinagar to review the flood situation. He said, "The situation is getting better. The water is receding. The rescue operations were also affected in between. I think in the next 3 to 4 days, the situation will get better. Now we need to provide food, water and medicines to people. We have evacuated a lot of people. In the morning today, we evacuated 49,832 people."

Meanwhile, two Air India flights ferried free of cost tourists trapped in Srinagar. While Air India operated a widebody Airbus A-330 to Srinagar to bring back 270 passengers, mostly tourists, free of charge, IndiGo flew 150 of them in a similar manner, officials of both carriers said.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has asked airlines to cap the fares on Srinagar-Delhi and Leh-Delhi sectors to Rs 2,800 and Rs 3,000. It has also asked airlines to ply additional flights to clear the rush of outbound tourists from Srinagar.

Telecom services in flood-hit Kashmir Valley are slowly being restored with BSNL resuming connectivity to 7,000 landline phones and 14 mobile towers in Srinagar city.

Private sector operator Bharti Airtel's network has been restored in Jammu, Kargil, Ladakh and Leh. Airtel said inter operator roaming has been configured - thus allowing customers to make calls by latching onto other networks in areas where Airtel network is yet to be restored.

State-run BSNL said 14 base transceiver stations (BTS) or mobile towers are functioning in Srinagar providing connectivity to 15,000 mobile phones whereas 7,000 landline connections and 2,000 broadband connections are also working.

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