ITBP, NDRF to seek commendation for U'khand crash martyrs

 The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will soon write to the government seeking “Jeevan Raksha Pathak” for 15 of its personnel who were killed in an air crash when they were engaged in rescue operations during Uttarakhand floods.

Sources said the forces would be writing soon, recommending that the coveted prize be posthumously conferred upon the personnel who died along with five other Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel in the June 26 crash.

Six of the 15 personnel are from the ITBP, while the rest were on deputation in the NDRF from the ITBP at the time of the tragedy. They were deployed in Uttarakhand during the June disaster and were engaged in countless rescue missions, during which over one lakh people were evacuated. The Mi-17 V5 chopper in which they were travelling was on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath. They were returning from Kedarnath when the incident occurred.

The ITBP and NDRF personnel killed in the incident were Commandants Nityanand Gupta and Nand Ram, Inspector Bhim Singh, Sub-Inspectors Satish Kumar and Jayender Prasad, and constables K Vinaygan, Bassavaraj Yaragatti, Santosh Kumar Paswan, Sanjiva Kumar, Shashi Kant Ramesh Pawar, Ahir Rao Ganesh, Jomon P G, Bibhuti Roy, Sarvesh Kumar and Ajay Lal.

The ITBP alone had deployed around 1,200 personnel in the state during the calamity, and rescued 33,009 stranded tourists and pilgrims. The force has also come up with a 24-minute video, which has megastar Amitabh Bachchan lending his voice, on its rescue operations in the state. A top ITBP official said they were yet to recover the bodies of two personnel who died in the crash. The terrain is difficult but efforts are still on to recover the bodies.

Three companies of the ITBP are still stationed in Uttarakhand to help the state police remove debris and recover bodies. The official said the state government had asked the ITBP to conduct the debris-clearance operation, but the force had refused it, as it was not its job. However, he said, the ITBP had decided to station three companies in the state to help state forces.

Asked about what could have been done to minimise the effect of the calamity in Uttarakhand, the official said there could be some control on pilgrimage to the shrines in the upper hills, hastily adding, hat it is for the government to take such measures.

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