Amarnath Yatra: NDRF, SDRF Men To Join Mountain Rescue Teams

Amarnath Yatris enroute to cave shrine - KO File Pic

Jammu- With the Amarnath pilgrimage starting from June 30 after a break of two years, NDRF and SDRF personnel are getting specialised training to be part of the Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police to ensure the safety and convenience of devotees, officials said on Monday.

The MRTs comprising personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will be deployed at nearly a dozen identified critical spots on the twin routes to the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine, they said.

The 43-day yatra is scheduled to start from the traditional twin routes 48-km trek from Nunwan to the cave shrine from Pahalgam in south Kashmir's Anantnag and 14-km shorter but steep Baltal route in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir.

The administration is preparing to welcome about eight lakh pilgrims during the yatra this year.

The officials said NDRF and SDRF personnel are presently undergoing the specialised mountain rescue training at the Jammu and Kashmir Police facility at Nud in Samba district and some of the NDRF personnel deployed in the Union Territory will be part of the MRTs.

We are presently imparting training to a joint NDRF and SDRF batch consisting of 70 personnel. The training course is of 15 days to help them serve in high-altitude areas and natural disaster-hit regions, Inspector Ram Singh, who is functioning as in-charge of the MRT, told PTI.

Singh, who created history by becoming the first person from Jammu and Kashmir Police to scale Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, on May 22, 2008, said they are training six batches of 40 members each of the NDRF and only those who are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir will be part of the MRT deployment on yatra routes.

He said this is for the first time that they are training NDRF personnel at the facility which has the latest gadgets and equipment of international standards.

A total of 13 highly professional instructors, including two more Everesters' -- selection grade constables Nazir Ahmad and Falil Singh -- are involved in the training of the selected batches. The training centre remains open for six months from November-December, Singh said.

Ahmad and Singh were part of the 11-member All India Police Sports Control Board team that scaled Mount Everest in May 2019.

The training included climbing a mountain, and rescue and search operation along with live demonstration -- rescuing people trapped in avalanches or in any other disaster, the officer said.

Singh said police first deployed the MRTs during the yatra in 2008 and since then, each year MRTs are deployed along with teams from NDRF, SDRF and CRPF.

As many 1,200 jawans of J&K Police are trained in mountain rescue operations in rocky and snow-bound terrain, while training was imparted to 90 CRPF personnel and 200 SDRF personnel, while it is in progress for 240 NDRF personnel, Singh said.

The officer, who is leading the MRTs during the upcoming yatra, said over 1,600 pilgrims were rescued by them in 2019 with the personnel braving life-threatening challenges in the snow-bound and high-altitude tracks.

He said each MRT team is deployed in such a way that it covers the entire yatra track from both sides, including Sheshnag, Mahagunus Top, Poshpatri, Dardkote, Sangam Top, Brarimarg and Railpathri.

"Each member of the team is well-equipped having individual kit with gaiters, overmitts and mountain rescue equipment like carabiners, jumars, descending rappels, avalanche rods, helmets, oxygen cylinder and first-aid kit besides latest communication facility," Singh said.

The refresher course for the MRTs also covers Basic Life Support Systems (BLS), Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and other first-aid techniques about 10 days before the commencement of the yatra, he said.

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