IAF airlifts stranded passengers in J-K
After days of uncertainty and wait, the Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted 1375 stranded passengers from Jammu to Srinagar and return. Amir Karim Tantray reports. Leh coldest at minus 21.8 deg | Over 3,100 vehicles stranded on J&K highwayindia Updated: Jan 21, 2012 18:48 IST
After days of uncertainty and wait, the Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted 1375 stranded passengers from Jammu to Srinagar and return.
The process of the airlifting of stranded passengers from Jammu started around 8.45 am on Saturday when IAF AN 32 airlifted 50 passengers from Jammu to Srinagar from technical airport here, which was supervised by Air Officer Commanding (AOC) air force station Jammu Nitin Sathe.
It was the sunny day in Jammu, so were the faces of people going back to their homes from Jammu to valley in the IAF planes, the arrangement of which was made by IAF on the request of state government.
Most of the passengers had spent last penny to afford the food and accommodation in Jammu during their stay. The decision of airlifting the passengers from Jammu to Srinagar was taken by the government after closure of Jammu-Srinagar national highway due to the heavy snow since January 6.
Some of the women passengers were carrying their children along and their husbands were not with them. Mumtaz Begum of Peer Bagh Srinagar who returned to Srinagar along his two children and Rukayya Begum of Baramulla along her child were few among many who boarded the IAF plane to Srinagar from Jammu.
With a sigh of relief on her face, Rukayya Begum said, “At last we are heading towards our homes after so many days of stress and pain. Now, we will join our family and take rest.”
Though on Saturday the highway was opened for trucks carrying the essential commodities to valley but no passenger vehicle was allowed move on the highway due to the presence of snow on most of the places on highway which made the movement for light vehicles dangerous.
“The IAF started its operation to air lift stranded passengers around 8.45 am and during the day around 1375 people were air lifted from Srinagar to Jammu and from Jammu to Srinagar,” S N Acharya, officiating PRO defence told Hindustan Times.
Acharya said that the operation will continue during till night and around 200 Army personnel will be air lifted to Srinagar from Jammu.
Due to the less capacity in AN 32, the IAF IL 76 plane was also put in to action which started its operation from Chandigarh to Srinagar by air lifting 200 Army personnel. The IL 76 also airlifted passengers from Srinagar to Jammu and return.
Thanking the state government for making the arrangement, Saeed-ul-Rehman Pandit 66, a resident of Gulmarg said, “I have no words to thank the government for providing the relief. It was great gesture from chief minister to airlift stranded passengers.”