Army boats worked over time to manage massive rescue operations in the worst affected Shivpora – Sonawar belt that was submerged hugely, those who were rescued said.
“Police and army men were working from 7 pm and the operations would continue till late midnight,” Reyaz Ahmad, who was rescued during late hours from a house said. “In certain cases, they were taking more load than the boats could hold.”
Another civilian who was rescued from the same belt said the army boats would manage their way during the most difficult belts that had narrow passages and massive wires of telephone, cables and the power.
While some of the rescue people were taken to certain belts within the BB Cantt, most of those helped come out of the marooned areas were dropped on the Gupkar Road. “Most of the people rescued were given a light refreshment of a cup of tea and four biscuits,” Ghulam Nabi, a middle aged resident from Shivpora said.
Police sources said the army preferred evacuating people who were on the roof-tops, followed by people stranded in visibly week buildings. Those who were in multi-story buildings were given the last priority.
Army also opened the gates of the BB cantt, for the first time, from the Gupkar side to manage the passage of a few hundred people who took the foothill track to move out of the city. This was done after a formal request was made by the governor N N Vohra, sources said.
Witnesses who were part of the massive crowd on Gupkar said the army officers managing the rescue refused point blank the state government request of rescuing particular officials from the area. “I am witness to it a colonel rank officer shouting at the state government emissary saying he will go by his mandate and not by the state government priority,” a doctor who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
Meanwhile IAF has stated that it made serious attempts to help as many people as possible. Air Vice Marshal Upkarjit Singh, Air Officer Commanding was quoted saying that its operations in Srinagar were massive given the magnitude of the crisis. Despite facing the handicaps of lacking any ground contact and inputs, collapse of tele-communication, the top IAF officer said they rescued people on basis of the assessments based on their aerial surveys. He said around 1100 civilians were rescued after deploying commandos on roof-tops and breaking windows to get them out.
The IAF that mobilized most of its flying assets for rescue and relief also flew 11000 people out of the valley in its aircrafts that flew in with relief. IAF, at the same time, had to manage the rescue and relief of its deployments within the state as a number of its garrisons were submerged, reports said.