CAS EVAC – Noel Ellis's Official Blog

Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: CAS EVAC

A DAY IN THE VALLEY

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follow url “Eidi hazam aur cease fire khatam” reminds me of my childhood when we used so sing, “Tamasha khatam-paisa hazam”. The holy month did not remain as holy as it ought to be. Encounters with death loomed large over the security forces and others too in the valley.

prednisolone mg kg In J&K brushes with death are common.  It need not be an encounter with militants only. If you come back safely after your posting, you can thank God. One has to be prepared for an encounter at any moment. Chances are moment you let down your guard a bullet comes looking for you. One has to be on his toes throughout his tenure. It is a high pressure job.

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arcoxia 60mg para que serve I remember when posted there I was once detailed to get pay for the sector. I had to move from Kangan to Sharifabad. We congregated at the sector HQ as the personnel were from various battalions. I briefed the party on various drills and contingencies and moved in a convoy of a gypsy, a 2.5 ton (dhai ton) and an LPT (10 tonner) with about 36 people as a special pay QRT (Quick Reaction Team). No waiting for any ROP-Sharopy. (Road Opening Party)

Sharifabad was connected to the main road by a serpentine raised narrow bundh. Suffice to say that the bundh was broad enough for a truck to pass. It was rice harvest season. People were working in the fields. I saw a lot of “Tongas” and horses standing on the side of this elevated road. We were feeling comparatively safe as Sharifabad was just a few kilometers away.

There would have been no cordon and search that night, a good dinner and a peaceful sleep was on my mind. I asked the operator can you see the vehicles behind. He said no. I stopped, got out with my AK-47 slung over my shoulder and waited. The seventh sense was telling me something is wrong.

I said a silent a prayer and told the driver to turn back. It was a long curved road and the rice fields were about 15-20 feet below and water logged. The moonlight was being reflected from the stagnant water. Lo and behold I found two headlights down in the rice fields. All of us quickly dismounted. We got on to the Divisional frequency and intimated them that we need help. The AAG responded and said the needful will be done.

I went down sliding. There were 12 people in the 2.5 ton. We pulled out the driver and co-driver; they were in a daze but OK. The tragedy had stuck in the rear. The dhai ton was lying on its side. Three guys were injured badly. On one the spare wheel had fallen, on the other the jack had hit his head probably and the third was under the dhai ton itself. All were breathing but the situation was grim.

I baby carried a chap with lot of difficulty up the steep slope. The badly injured were put in the LPT. Walking wounded were put in the gypsy. I left a guard of One JCO & 6 jawans as ammunition and weapons of the injured could not be accounted for. Once the critically wounded were in safe hands we rushed back to the site. It was cold but we traced out each and every magazine and weapon even in knee deep water as it was moon lit. Recovery of the dhai ton was left for the next day. Villagers has evaporated into thin air.

I spoke to the driver who told me that he had seen a few villagers next to the tongas, who shooed the horses away seeing our vehicles approach. To avoid hitting a horse I cut the steering and the result was in front of us. I left further investigation for the next day and rushed back to hospital. Three guys were very critical and rest were shaken up with minor cuts and bruises. No one had a wink of sleep that night for obvious reasons.  Next morning two of the most critical were heli lifted to Udhampur, Sad news reached me that one jawan passed away in flight and the other after about two hours in hospital. I had a lump in my throat and still get it when I remember them. God bless their souls.

We the security forces suffer causalities in various administrative moves too. The risk of serving in J&K is compounded as on one side is the devil and the other is the deep sea. God forbid, had a Kashmiri been killed in the incident where not a single round was fired, I would have been answering the human rights courts.

Out of 36, 33 of us got back, two left for their celestial journey and one badly injured came back after a long time of rehab and sick leave. His both legs had multiple fractures as he was under the vehicle. I look back and think life was not easy in the valley. I moved to Manipur from the valley. It was like falling from the frying pan into the fire. Picture abhi baki hai mere dost.

What was the cost we paid to collect those 50 Lakh rupees as pay? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MATTER OF AN INCH

These days I avoid commenting on the state of political affairs. However, when people get loggerheads with national security, I can’t resist keying a few words. Today, I would like to deal with a politician who rubbed the Indian Navy on the wrong side for not granting permission for a floating jetty to be constructed in the Malabar hills of Mumbai. Well Sir, the least I can say is little knowledge is dangerous. If another 26/11 happens, the same politicians will not only run to the Navy but also provide a mile of land to establish a security hub where they refuse to give an inch today.

Be that as it may, you call Colaba area posh. Rightly so, it is the inhabitants and the culture of the citizens staying in that area that make it posh and Navy is definitely one of them. Real estate prices are not the only indicator for the poshness of a place. It is the environment, the facilities and national assets that make it so. Don’t you see smart men and women in white who add to the definition of posh?

If I have to suggest, why do we have all Mantralay’s including yours in Delhi? Let the Maharashtra Mantralaya shift to Deonar dumping ground and our Parliament to the Gazipur land fill. Two things would happen, one, the habit of opening their mouths too much by the politicians will stop due to the stench. Second, that area will become posh.

The Navy should be patrolling the Pakistan border as you say. Rightly so, you should be patrolling the Indian roads then. Why do you politicians chicken out while giving orders to sort Pak out? Navy would be more than happy to shift their Headquarters to Karachi or Gwadar as the case may be. You want to be in the arms of your darling every evening, what has the navy chap done to deserve a life buoy around his neck at the end of each day.

Once Pakistan is taken care of, thereafter, you won’t have any requirement of the Western fleet. Army too will be able to concentrate on the direction which is getting hotter by the day and so will the Air Force. Kindly minister sahib, visit those forward areas. I request you give us a few feet, where roads and other infrastructure can be built for sustaining the troops. The forces will be more than happy to find their colleagues being evacuated in time and saved. We want living legends and not dead jetties.

Let us be clear that minister ship lasts as long as the government lasts. How long will this one last, next election will tell? Once the Navy is sent off to patrol, they definitely won’t be able to vote, as they would be guarding the high seas for this nation. This should not give you a wrong notion that their vote won’t count. If need be, the armed forces will make it count one day. We are protectors of this nation and not people who lower their morale by ridiculous statements. We serve every government irrespective of who is the minister of which ever ministry.

The joke going around is that, if you can’t give an inch of ground, we definitely can give the government a nine inch boot in next elections. The men in uniform owe their allegiance to the tricolour & the constitution; politicians we know owe their allegiance to whom, for what and why.

One more thing I want to ask Minister Saab. You keep every inch with you but please ensure that servicemen and ex servicemen do not have to beg for their rights. Their families are looked after while they are at the borders. Their children get admissions in schools, their properties are not taken away by thugs, their aging parents are treated with dignity and their documents are made without greasing any palm. Too much of rum has been spilled in the corridors of civil authorities without relief to this man guarding the frontiers. The beauty is that even when you don’t give him his due, he still doesn’t let the country down.

I wish you become the Defence Minister one day, maybe just temporarily and understand why they denied that facility. The person whose baby it is knows, isn’t it? I know you can’t think beyond business, profits and commerce but National Security should never be compromised at any cost, ever.

Well, Indian Armed Forces have a different business to deal with. So kindly take back your words and give us that inch which you have decided not to give. We have been taught and believe in that Chetwode Motto which says “The Safety, Honour and Welfare of your country comes first always and every time”. Construction of a jetty for commercial purposes comes last always and every time. Does it make any sense to you Mr Minister? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE BEST CAREER

As I sit back and look at the journey of my life, had I continued in the Indian Army, I would have retired at the end of this month. In the civil where I work with now, I may go on for another 6 years if all goes well. Well, I am not sure will I be able to last that long because of my nature which does not go very well in civil, which is to take a stand for my subordinates or for something which my conscious does not allow. Well, this attitude has cost me my job many times. I still continue to bash on regardless without bothering about the outcome.

This brings me to a question. Which is the right profession then? What can be termed as a satisfying career? In which job can you keep working till the day you like, keep earning and enjoy the best of life? Is it the forces? The answer is an absolute no. Is it the corporate? My answer is an absolute no again. I find two professions which might fit in the bill. One is to become a politician and the other is to become a holy man.

Be that as it may, the thought that triggered me to write this piece was the way armed forces are being used in the country today. It has been proved that the forces will come to the rescue of this nation for anything and everything including building a foot over bridge or cleaning the mountains besides all that we keep doing routinely in Aid to Civil Authorities. Why do we do it so professionally? It is because this comes from the ethos the men and women in uniform imbibe in them.

The simple formula we follow is Z-KIT-BM. The landmarks (Zamini Nishan) are given to get familiar with the terrain and area of responsibility, the information of both, own side and the enemy is given in great detail (Khabar dushman ki aur Khabar apni), the aim (Irada) of the operation is made crystal clear. It is short, crisp and precise. The modus operandi (Tarika) is then told so that no doubts are left lingering, including various contingencies. Thereafter, we discuss the administration (bandobast) and finally are the communications (Milap) between all parties participating in the operation.

Last but not the least we also synchronise our watches (Ghari Milao). This is the most important ritual, as we do things time bound. We then get to work even without orders. In case our leader becomes a causality or is not available, the next senior assumes his position automatically. We work, we rest and we get back to work again amidst all chaos till we achieve our aim as given out in the Irada. We fight till the last man last round, if rounds finish we get our bayonets on, if bayonets break, we don’t give up even then, we use are bare hands to achieve the aim even if we perish in the process. That’s our culture.

All this I do not see happening in the civil. First, I find the main aim is “paisa banao” (make money). Second, is to paisa bachao (save money), by not paying well and cutting down on salaries, amenities and manpower. To achieve greater heights the formula becomes lick, lick and lick. Butter every side of the toast. The formula used is, “KAAM NA KARO, KAAM KI FIQR KARO AUR FIQR KA ZIQR APNE BOSS KO ZAROOR KARO” (Don’t work, just worry about work and keep telling your boss that how worried you are) is the key to success. Secondly, for any fault, blame all and sundry rather than own up responsibility. Make someone the scapegoat. Let truth never prevail. If caught, run away or go to court.

Sit long hours in office twiddling your thumbs. In fact your boss does the same but apparently it should appear that you are the most sincere employee. Bring a pin and describe the process as if you bought an aeroplane. Discuss it repetitively in all meetings the efforts you put in to research about it, the hurdles you faced in the selection process, the difficulty with which you could convince people to pass your budget, not to forget how many mails you sent and the paper work you did. How you almost visited the vendor, got the pin loaded and followed it through every octroi post. Blame the delay on the non cooperation by some who did not give a crane to unload this pin especially if you hold a personal grudge against him. At the end expect a complimentary mail for you to keep in record to show it during your appraisal. Life actually sucks.

The profession of babas and baby’s I don’t have to discuss. Politics I don’t know and about politicians I won’t utter a word. One thing I may like to tell the people who run this country is that, Sirs, if you don’t make the profession of the Armed Forces the best career option in this country, if you don’t give the serving and the veterans their dues and Izzat, then your profession will be jeopardy someday. Politics as a career is alright but will you be able think beyond the petty politics and pay heed to the writings on the wall called “Khabar Apni”? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

RAIL BACHAO

Train accidents are again on the increase. Innocent lives who have entrusted everything of theirs to the railways find themselves on a journey of a different kind. People land up at the heaven’s gate in that fraction of a second when someone somewhere has not done his duty properly. Worst are those people who are left behind maimed and injured. Many perish for no fault of theirs.

Yes, the Indian Railways is totally responsible for such loss. Compensating for lives by a few lakhs is cosmetics as this person can never be replaced. People who are left behind do not know what to do now. Common train travellers are middleclass people like me or from rural background. Government can really do nothing much except to give treatment to the survivors, arrange another train for the stranded and hand over the bodies to relatives. Many have no claimants for the compensation so all of it goes back to the government kitty. Everything gets forgotten, media finds a new story. A few people are sacked or transferred and political statements are vociferously made. Resignations are demanded and by then rail traffic gets restored so life goes on as usual.

Train accidents invariably occur at inaccessible places, on the sides of fields and farms. Are civil and railway hospitals along the main train routes geared up to receive causalities?  I suggest use of helicopter ambulances. They should be mobilised to extricate casualties straight from the site to the best of hospitals. Can we have on each train a space for keeping material to make an improvised helipad even if that compartment gets destroyed? Can the railway staff be trained to create one helipad under any circumstances? I can assure you if our helicopter pilots can land on a five feet strip in the glacier in inclement weather as also our Coast Guard pilots rescue people in storms and rough seas then why can’t there be an NDRF air component to transport everything required even if it has to be under slung. The concept of Quick Reaction Teams for such activities can be done state wise for immediate cas-evac. If we can have anti sabotage and anti terrorist squads in every state, then there also should be airborne med-assist teams for the railways in general and state in particular.

Railways definitely need to pull up their socks. Accidents happen as animals come on the tracks, to people moving between tracks, crossing unmanned level crossings, to people crossing manned level crossings. However alert the driver and his assistant may be, for them to notice a crack in the railway track and stop the train at a safe distance is asking for too much. I have also not understood that why is the railway engine cabin located in a place where the driver has to peep out and look for objects. In case of bad weather he cannot even shut his window and has to look through the one in front of his seat. The length of the engine blocks the complete view of the other side. His seat is so uncomfortable that sitting on it for eight hours must be a task in itself. The assistant loco pilot hangs outside on the other side, trying to figure out if the signal is green or red or is there a caution. He maintains the logs and risks moving out on the engine to check while moving full speed. I find no safety gear for him.

I have seen them shouting to each other various commands and cautions as the situation arises. It is to confirm that what the driver has seen or observed is correct and cross checked. I can assure you one goes deaf in the engine roar. I have firsthand experience sitting in diesel engines while moving military specials. It took our railways ages for the driver and the guards to have walkie-talkies. Why can’t they have long range communication with their HQs and stations enroute? The driver or the assistant has to take the token half hanging with his arm curved at an angle. The person handing over the token has a burning “Mashal” to indicate his location at night. A dropped token means the train doesn’t have clearance to move and a penalty is imposed on the driver. Hope things have modernised and improved now.

The driver doesn’t have a toilet. Even if he stops at a railway station his position is such that he cannot run to the nearest one. I do not know if the drivers and train crew go through an alcohol test before mounting onto their workplaces as done for air crews. Railways are famous for working after getting “tally”. This I have seen myself as my uncle was a loco foreman in the NE Railway at Kathgodam and I had the privilege to travel on the footplate of steam engines many-many moons back. This poor man doesn’t even have a water cooler leave alone an air conditioned cabin. I have seen many of them carrying their own water bottles for the day’s journey. Yes stations were fixed where ice used to come on the engine after dark, as time to open the throttle and the bottle used to coincide.

Well friends our rail network is too vast. Threats are too many. One fish plate, one locking nut, one blink of an eye can lead to a tragedy. They still remain the prime movers of the citizens and freight of this country but they need to be more professional as far as rail safety and security is concerned. They also are the easiest thing to target maybe it a Rail-Roko or sabotage. Every life is precious; every life counts. I too want to ride a bullet train in this life. “Hey Prabhu”, will I be able to? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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