New Delhi, June 27: Faith is shaken, not lost. It has been one of the biggest and toughest rescue operations the world has seen and by Thursday over one lakh were rescued from flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. In another two days the rescue operation could be over.
By mid-afternoon today, the total number rescued and thus saved stood at 1,04,095. Behind these numbers are untold stories of courage and endurance in the abode of gods.
While the air force is flying out people from inaccessible areas, the men men and women of army, ITBP, NDRF and unnamed volunteers have trekked hazardous mountains to bring people to safety.
"We felt proud when people called us saviours, god and many similar terms. This made us believe that we have to take out each and every one before we go down," says ITBP's Deputy Commandant R S Negi.
The ITBP personnel have won hearts with their exemplary courage and commitment, refusing to bow down in the hour of crisis. They are up in the higher reaches battling a difficult terrain but even after more than a week, the ITBP men stand firmly against all odds.
The daunting tales of courage, conviction and loyalty of these men are now making their commanders swell with pride, as they continue to trickle down from the mountains by rescue choppers.
"No one (ITBP personnel) ever told us that they want to go down. It was just that those who grew weak and fell ill were prioritised for evacuation. We never had to care about these boys who were in no better condition than those who were stranded," ITBP Deputy Commandant A K Sachan says.
And the IAF's recue and relief operations continue even after the helicopter accident. Operation Rahat by the IAF is the biggest rescue mission launched by it in its history and world.
"We owe it to the lives our people whom we have lost, that we sustain the mission and complete it successfully", said Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, Chief of the Air Staff
The IAF since June 17 has flown a total of 1,540 sorties, over 100 sorties a day in rain and fog. It has deployed a C-130 heavy lift aircraft, Mi-17 V5s, ALH, Mi-17s, Chetaks and Dhruv copters.
The jawans to Indian Army have restored faith in human kindness. When the Army came to know about a pregnant lady in Tawaghat sector then Captain Doctor Febha Susan was summoned. She trekked for 15 kms through forests and hills and delivered the baby safely.
Army troops have carried the children, old, sick and injured people on shoulders and tokk them to safe places. They have also built rope bridges and Burma bridges, and saved thousands of people.
Even the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has done remarkable work in restoring road connectivity in a highly treacherous condition. The BRO has 3,500 personnel involved in the Uttarakhand mission, providing vital links to habitation.
Now, is the challenge of rehabilitation.