am proud of being a small part of this rescue operation, as it was the biggest helicopter rescue in the world. We tried to save the pilgrims. Being a swayamsevak, I have done it for my inner conscience. We did the entire rescue operation at our own risk, as our company had refused to put our lives in danger. But after seeing the conditions of the survivors we were unable to stop ourselves and decided to volunteer.
Rescue operation by Yoginder Rana
On June 17, 2013, I along with Capt Bhupindra Singh and Shri Brijmohan Bisht went to Rambada at 6pm. We hardly manage to fly till Rambada due to extreme bad weather, but we returned back from Garudchatti. We had seen survivors in between Gaurikund and Rambada, but were unable to evacuate them. As landed back, we informed the district administration and Secretary Aviation Rakesh Sharma.
On June 18, we flew to Kedarnath at 6 am and started rescuing people from Garudchatti. Then we flew back to Kedarnath Temple as lot of survivors stuck their due to heavy water body at both sides of the Temple. All the connecting bridges were swept away due to floods. There were some people next to the river but were unable to cross. We made temporary arrangements with logs to make them cross. While crossing we helped them as they were very scared of the current of river. Then we made a makeshift helipad for helicopters to land and successfully rescued more than 150 people.
On June 19, after having a cup of tea early morning, we went for rescue, as it was hard to sit in a room after seeing such adverse conditions of survivors with small kids, old people and women next to dead bodies. They were staying there without shelter, food and proper drinking water. The whole day it was hard to even take food in such conditions. We used to drink only water. That day we rescued people from Ghoda Padaw (Ponny Stand) at Kedarnath.
On June 20, around 250 people were sitting in small patch of Rambada, they did not have food, water, shelter from the day of devastation, and were in a very bad condition sitting next to the dead bodies. At that place it was very hard to land, due to insufficient space. But along with Capt Bhupinder Singh we managed to land. As Capt Bhupinder hover the aircraft, I jumped outside and then made a proper place for landing the helicopters. With a continuous Operation of 5 to 6hrs with four helicopters we rescued all the survivors.
On 20th evening we were trying to find a place for landing in Jungle Chatti, but unable to get a suitable place as more than thousand of survivors were stuck there. We were unable to even drop food and water there by helicopters, as the place was very steep and helicopters dropping could either fell down to river or stuck somewhere in mountains. The people did not have energy to climb up the mountain to get the food packets. That evening we met Wing Commander Nikhil Naidu as he had landed in pinnacle helipad with ALH helicopter, we requested him if it is possible to winch down us at Jungle Chatti, so that we can make suitable place for landing of helicopters. He took permission from his seniors regarding winching down us at Jungle Chatti. Finally, on June 21, morning they winched down us at Jungle Chatty, as we were the first civilians who did it in Indian history. We made a manageable place for landing of helicopters and started doing shuttles as one b3 helicopter have made 2 shuttles and while doing third one hit with the rock due to uncontrolled crowd as survivors were so aggressive to go on first. The impact of accident was so hard that it had thrown me five meters away. I got some injuries in hand and legs that day. We hardly managed to escape from death. As both of us were just with the helicopter.
On June 22, one of our civil pilots had seen a couple stranded at an altitude of 10500ft. The couple was unable to walk down to the nearest makeshift helipad. Wing Commodore Nikhil Naidu made a call on radio set as he was looking for we people for rescue the couple. That time I was only available at helipad, as Shri Brijmohan Bisht was resting. After that accident I got a cramp in my left arm. Mr Naidu called me near the helicopter and asked me as I am willing to do or not with injuries. As I was aware of the high altitude, huge trees and winds added to the risk, I volunteered, they winch down me on the particular spot I have strapped them one by one and we managed to save the two lives.
From June 23 to 27 we were in Badrinath to monitor the helicopter Operation, as no one skilled staff was there in field to look after the operations. People in Badrinath were panicked due to bad weather and were looking to get rid of all the hassles of road block.
From June 28 to July 27 we looked after the Operations in Guptakashi with Rudraprayag district administration to evacuate the serious people and pregnant women from villages to nearby hospitals by helicopters. Rest of the time we dropped dry rations to affected villages and working to restore Kedarnath area.
I am proud of being a small part of this rescue operation, as it was the biggest helicopter rescue in the world. We tried to save the pilgrims. Being a swayamsevak I have done it for my inner conscious. We did the entire rescue operation on our own risk, as our company had refused to put our lives in danger. But after seeing the conditions of the survivors we were unable to stop ourselves and decided to volunteer.
If anybody require us in any rescue operation anywhere in India in near future, we are always ready to volunteer.
Anybody can contact us on this email [email protected] yahoo.com