Army calls off search op in Kashmir village to help unwell girl
Srinagar: The air was thick with tension. Army soldiers had surrounded a Kashmir village following a tip-off that militants were holed up inside somewhere when two men came forward tentatively to say a young girl was seriously unwell. Within seconds, the wireless buzzed – “All stations on hold”.
The cordon and search operation (CASO) at Kralkhod village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Saturday was immediately suspended and a medical officer accompanying the troops sent to attend to the 11-year-old, officials said.
The child was lying on the floor with her jaws clenched and a high pulse rate, signs of seizures, said Captain Sanjana Sharma, a resident medical officer attached to 1-Rashtriya Rifles.
“I checked her vitals which were fine except for her pulse rate which was very high. She had a bout of seizures. The focus was to stabilise her condition. Once that goal was achieved, her parents were asked to take her to a district hospital where she could be shown to a neurologist,” Sharma, a third-generation army officer, told PTI.
Recapping the events of the day, officials said the male population of the village had been lined up for identification at the time the two men approached an army officer from the Rashtriya Rifles, a force carved from the regular army to fight militancy in Kashmir’s hinterland. A girl, they said, was serious at their home which fell in the CASO area.
No militants were found that day. 1-RR Commanding Officer Col Kapil Mohan Sehgal abandoned the search, wasting no time to instruct his troops to put the operation on hold and ask Sharma to first attend to the girl.
He was not disappointed though. “We could save an innocent life. Fighting terrorism may be topping the agenda for the Army in Kashmir but saving an innocent life is still topmost priority,” he said.
There are no regrets, agreed his Major General Rashim Bali, General Officer-in Command of Victor Force, which supervises the security situation in south and central Kashmir.
“Operations can wait, saving lives of innocent cannot,” he said, appreciating the presence of mind of his personnel.
Sharma, who is from Patiala, said medical officers often double up as emergency response teams for villages.
“Being the next-door doctor for the local villagers is a common thing now. Maybe they trust the Army so much,” Sharma said, adding that the maximum number of cases they get are burn injuries due to the use of ‘kangris’ (fire pot) during winters.