Lance Naik Hanumanthappa who was being treated at the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi is no more. The hero battled bravely while buried deep inside snow and also at the hospital. We have now lost all the 10 brave men of the unit that was struck by an avalanche on the world’s highest, costliest and coldest battleground.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. PTI
By now you must have read extensively on how Hanumanthappa was found alive in a daring operation in the world’s most inhospitable terrain – the Siachen. But while we had reasons to be jubilant, we fell into a trap that we should not have.
The day Hanumanthappa was rescued from Siachen, a video started doing the rounds of social networking sites. Many believed it was from the rescue operation.
But it is not what you think it is.
Our correspondent Aaqib Makhdoomi spoke to Colonel N.N. Joshi, Indian Army’s PRO at Jammu and Kashmir, about the video. The official said that though it was of a genuine rescue operation conducted by the Indian Army elsewhere in Kashmir, it was not of Siachen.
The Army PRO said that one cannot dig into the glacier without ice cutters. That was one significant tool missing from the operation shown in the video.
Ice cutters such as the one here were used in the operation conducted by specialised teams of the Army and the Air Force in search for the bodies of the soldiers hit by an avalanche in Siachen. PTI Photo
And here are signs that social media should have noted before sharing it as the Siachen rescue operation video:
1. The soldiers in the video are wearing the basic olive green jackets. It is a dress that CANNOT help soldiers withstand the -30 to -45 degree Celsius temperatures at Siachen, which is located at an altitude of 19,600 feet, but is good for less colder climates such as Kashmir Valley.
Nissar Ahmad/The Hindu
Soldiers in Siachen wear protective gears such as this at all times when outside their camps.
Soldiers conducting the operation that resulted in the rescue of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa.
The set of clothing that is needed for a Siachen soldier comes to around Rs.1 lakh per set.
2. Hanumanthappa was found “barely alive” when rescuers reached him. On the other hand, the soldier rescued in the video is able to raise his head and look around.
Two sniffer dogs helped in the rescue mission at Siachen.
3. Soldiers had to dig around 25-30 feet into the ice to reach Hanumanthappa. That’s like the length of a Killer Whale, five times the height of an average man.
An image of the rescue operation shared by the Government shows the depth of the hole from where Hanumanthappa was pulled out.
While there is no doubt that the Indian Army is capable of conducting the most arduous of operations in the most effective manner, the social media should exercise restraint when sharing information of any kind because it might have a grave bearing on people’s emotions, especially when it concerns the life of an individual.