Army Major's Services In Kerala Proved That A Soldier Is Never Off Duty

Indian Army Major Hemant Raj from the 28 Madras Sapth Shakti command  was happy when his leave was sanctioned after a long period of service. He was supposed to board a flight from Delhi to Kochi. That’s when he came to know about the massive destruction due to flood in Kerala which led to cancellation of his flight. Suddenly all of his excitement to reach home and celebrate onam with his family turned into worry. Instead of halting in Delhi, he did something that saves hundreds of lives.

Without wasting much time, he request the air force officials to let him board the flight to Thiruvananthapuram. The officials showed respect towards his uniform and his urge to help his people. They helped him reach Tiruvananthapuram.

"I requested IndiGo officials to accommodate me in their flight to Thiruvananthapuram. I told them that I was keen to serve my people. The officials respected my uniform. I reached the state capital around 2 am on August 19," said Major Hemant.

He reached Thiruvanathapuram and promptly contacted Air force officials requesting them for an airdrop to Chengannur. Even the government was unaware that Chengannur was affected by flood. The situation was horrific. Roads were inaccessible and it was nearly impossible to reach the interior areas. There was no source of communication. There was no option left for him but to setup a relief camp at Chengannur.

"I met a few ex-servicemen and students. We set up our 'command centre' in Chengannur. We came in contact with 13 Garhwal Rifles rescue units which faced language problem. We offered them one local retired defence person each for their units. Local fishermen, too, came forward to help," said Major Hemant.

The team worked efficiently under his command. After a lot of drudgery, the team made it to the interior areas and returned with women and children who were stuck, waiting for help to arrive. With a team of ex-servicemen and students this was made possible. The students used mobiles and laptops for temporary operation center set-up. They noted the names and address of individuals rescued and called back to reassure the accuracy of the address. Still he was unaware of his family’s condition. But social media played its part here. People saw his relief work and posted his pictures online. His wife then came to know about his condition and his work. Soon he was able to contact his family and came to know that they were safe and sound.

"Soon Theertha contacted me and told me that she, our son Ayan and my parents were in Kottayam, another flooded town. I will be meeting them soon," said Major Hemant.

Things seemed to be working out. With Major and his team’s effort 10 tones of food was drooped every day.  But then again there was no power supply. The phones and laptops were dead in about three days and the temporary operation center was no longer functional. But nothing could stop him from doing what he was. He requested radio jockeys to urge their listeners for the necessary resources.

"I know radio jockeys. We requested Anjali Uthup, who is renowned singer Usha Uthup's daughter, to appeal for power banks and high-power boats on her shows," the Major said.

His idea worked and the rescuers sent them power banks and high-power boats and by this a lot more lives were also saved. Still the condition is not very good but the Major is confident that situation is under control as thousands of people have already made it to relief camps. He is a true soldier, a guardian to the people of Kerala. He also proved that a soldier is never off duty. His team is still active and by the time was talk, he is in action, because that’s what soldiers do.

"I have been helping people since the first day of my leave. The damage is huge, but I am confident that we shall get over it," said Major Hemant.

pic courtesy: pic-1, pic-2

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