The Gorkha connect between the Indian and Nepalese armies is powering New Delhi’s rescue and relief effort, giving it much-needed thrust and lifting up sagging morale at a time when Kathmandu is down on its knees.
Nepal army chief General Gaurav SJB Rana told HT that multinational rescue teams, including a 68-member Chinese taskforce, were providing humanitarian and disaster relief but the Indian contribution stood out.
“The Chinese are here and so are rescue teams from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Poland, Malaysia and other countries. Indians, however, have blended in most easily,” he said in an exclusive interview to HT on Monday.
Rana and Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh are the honorary chiefs of each others’ armies, an arrangement that reflects the strong connection between the two countries.
Both generals are very close friends. So on Monday when Rana realised that rescue efforts could be accelerated if heavy earth moving equipment was available, he called up General Singh in Delhi.
“General Singh said it would be on its way soon. That’s the special relationship we share as countries, as army chiefs, as friends,” said Rana, who attended Lawrence School, Sanawar, in Himachal Pradesh.
Rana has been monitoring rescue and relief operations on the ground. On Monday, he visited one of the six locations assigned to Indian rescue workers.
Dressed in battle fatigues, Rana mingled with the NDRF jawans and asked them about their backgrounds and the challenges they face.
“Nepal will be forever grateful to India for standing by us in these testing times. You have put your men in harm’s way for a friendship,” he said.
Rana hoped rescue teams would find more survivors as the golden ‘hour’ — the period when one is most likely to find survivors — in such disasters could stretch up to 72 hours. He said, “At one location, there’s a man trapped 20 feet below under a collapsed building. Rescuers have noticed movement of upper body… there may be more survivors.”
Time, however, is running out as the hope of 72 hours ends on Tuesday, at 11.58 am local time.