Friday, 24 February 2012


SONAMARG: Severe weather conditions prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir since last ten days took a serious turn on 22 Feb 12, when a series of avalanches hit the area of Sonamarg.  At approximately 1400 hours on 23 Feb 2012, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir approached the Army for assistance to rescue two individuals who had ventured out from Sonamarg on foot towards Gund, had come under an avalanche and had taken shelter under the Shitkari Bridge.  

On 23 Feb 2012, two foot patrols were launched consisting of specialised troops. However, heavy snow fall and major avalanche activities in the area thwarted all efforts of the patrol to reach the distressed villagers.  Brig Neeraj Seth, braving all odds, tried to locate the villagers with an Army Aviation helicopter. However, the blizzard was so severe in the area that this attempt was also abandoned.

The efforts to locate the individuals recommenced on 24 Feb 12 once weather opened up.  Army and civil administration requested the Air Force for helicopters. Air Force Pilots with excellent ­­­­­navigational skills and with the help of specialised troops on board finally were able to locate the villagers. However, it was found that in addition to the two stranded villagers there were additional seven villagers who were present in the area.  
As the winching of all the nine villagers was impossible, Maj Khati who was in the Air Force helicopter was dropped on the site near the Shitkari Bridge. He gathered all the villagers; prepared a make shift helipad by beating snow, where the helicopter landed and all villagers were rescued by carrying out three sorties.  
Wing Commander Vikram Singh and Flight Lieutenant Ranjeet Desai of the Air Force were instrumental in carrying out the rescue.  At Sonamarg they were given immediate first aid for cold injuries and were provided hot refreshments.  The civilians who were without food and water for over three days and badly shaken by the ordeal thanked Allah, Air Force and the Army for their dedication and devotion. The civilians after initial management at Sonamarg were further evacuated for specialised medical treatment.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and the Awam thanked the Army and Air Force for saving nine precious lives during a reception organised at Ganderbal on 24 Feb 12, soon after the operation.


SRINAGAR: MoS Home, Jenab Nazir Aslam Wani left all other engagements and flew from Jammu to Srinagar to accompany Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, GOC Chinar Corps, to the avalanche hit areas of Gurez and Sonamarg this morning.  The MoS Home personally conveyed the condolences of the Hon’ble CM of Jammu & Kashmir, Jenab Omar Abdullah, to the Corps Commander.  
Flying in an Army Aviation Helicopter, the MoS Home and the Corps Commander carried out a surveillance of all avalanche prone villages in the Gurez Valley before landing at Dawar, the scene of the devastating avalanche which hit the Army’s Brigade HQ at that location.  They witnessed firsthand the joint relief efforts of the Army and the Civil Administration to locate the three missing army personnel of the Army’s Workshop at Dawar.  
They were received and briefed by Maj Gen SK Chakravorty, GOC Kupwara Division and Brig Sanjeev Sharma, Commander Gurez.  Jenab Mohammed Ashraf SDM Gurez was also present at the site.  Even as the MoS and the Corps Commander were being briefed, two massive avalanches from the North of Kishanganga River thundered down the slopes and reached almost the river line.

The MoS Home and Corps Commander also flew to Sonamarg where they were received by Brig Kuldip Singh, Sub Area Commander, and briefed on the devastation caused by the avalanches which struck the Army’s camp from the south ridge.  The MoS was assured of all Army and Air Force assistance for rescue of civilians who were stuck in the vacated villages in the Sind Valley.  He received a firsthand briefing on the spectacular rescue of nine civilians stuck under the Shitkari Bridge, by the Air Force and the Army.

The MoS complimented the joint efforts of the Air Force and the Army and prayed that all Army Camps and villages would remain safe from the vagaries of the extreme winter being witnessed in J&K this year.  The Corps Commander thanked the State Government for its sensitivity and assured it that the cooperation and synergy being witnessed at all levels would continue unhindered.


POONCH:  Maj Gen GS Shergill, GOC, Romeo Force and Mr AK Sahu, Deputy Commissioner, Poonch today inaugurated the Poonch Premier League 2012 (PPL) T-20 tournament at Poonch Degree College Stadium here today. The inauguration ceremony was a resoundingly grand affair and included novel events such as hot air ballooning, cultural programs by troupes and impressive display by Army bands in their resplendent uniforms. The tournament is a joint venture of the Army under ‘Operation Sadbhavna' and the Poonch district administration.

Twelve teams from various areas of Poonch district would play intra-district matches in Phase-I from February 24 to 29 in the T-20 format. Speaking on the occasion, Maj Gen Shergill told that the aim of the tournament is to provide a platform to talented cricketers to showcase their potential, hoping that the tournament would also go a long way in exploiting the hidden sports talent of the youth particularly in rural, border and backward areas of the state.

Mr Anwar Hussain, Additional District Development Commissioner, Poonch praised the Army for providing technical and other logistical support for conduct of this mega tournament. Several Senior military and civil officials including Mr Ashkur Wani, SSP Poonch and various prominent citizens and a large number of locals attended the opening ceremony.


SRINAGAR: Victor Force continues to reach out to all segments of the Awam with genuine concern for their well being.  Victor Force accordingly commenced a Welding Training Cadre for unemployed youth of the valley.  270 Engineer Regiment under the aegis of HQ Victor Force is conducting the second such training on welding for a duration of four weeks from 06 February 12 to 03 March 12.  
The welding training being conducted is free of cost, for unemployed youth, is a great step taken for welfare of the younger section of the society.  This cadre gives opportunity to the youth to set up their own small business for earning a livelihood.
The cadre is being conducted for 30 youth from South Kashmir, having a minimum educational qualification as 8th Standard, under guidance of qualified tradesmen in a well-equipped workshop.  At the end of the course, they will be assessed by a Technical team detailed from ITI Srinagar.
The welding training includes training on metal welding & cutting, pipe welding, arc welding, brass welding, Gas welding as well as handling of cutting machine.  At the end of the course each individual will be given a qualifying certificate duly endorsed by ITI Srinagar which would help them in getting employment.  This gesture by Army has been widely appreciated by the Awam and will definitely further cement the bond between the Awam & Jawan.
                                                “Aap ki Fauj, Hamesha  Aap ke Sath” 


SRINAGAR: A wreath laying ceremony was solemnised at Badami Bagh Cantonment for the three brave soldiers who lost their lives in avalanches at Sonamarg on 22 Feb 12. Wreaths were laid on behalf of GOC-in-C Northern Commmand, Lt Gen KT Parnaik. 

Wreaths were also laid by Lt Gen SA Hasnain and other senior officers, JCOs and other ranks of the Badami Bagh Garrison. Army camps at Dawar in Gurez sector and Sonamarg were devasted by avalanches on night of 22 Feb 12. The tragedy was so severe that number of soldiers were buried in the snow with a few bodies yet to be recovered.