India appears to have earned goodwill in Turkey, with Army and NDRF teams successfully carrying out search and rescue operations in the earthquake devasted transcontinental country of West Asia.

After the rescuers returned to India on Monday, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General Atul Karwal told reporters that his team was able to rescue two girls alive and retrieve 78 bodies in the ‘Operation Dost’ carried out in Turkey. Army Chief General Manoj Pande too facilitated his medical team on Tuesday for setting up a 30-bedded hospital in 6 hours to take care of 3,600 injured patients in Turkey hit by earthquake of 6.3 magnitude.

The 152-members NDRF teams, which for the first time had six women personnel and six canines, along with Army’s medical staff, were air lifted into the disaster zone on February 7. “We had the full support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister’s Office held a meeting and instructed us to go there, we prepared ourselves immediately. Our official passports were made on the same day and till late evening the office was kept open. The Indian Air Force picked up our team from Kolkata and brought us to Delhi to get a visa. The ITBP provided us with winter clothing and whatever we could anticipate might be needed we got without delay of one minute,” Karwal said, giving a sense into how quickly the team got ready for take off.

Since then teams battled odds like language and debris for the tough humanitarian effort that NDRF and Army officials claim brought emotive people-to-people connect among the two nations. “A strong relationship was built between our rescuers and locals. They wanted us to leave our badges with them and in return, they kept something valuable belonging to them in our pockets,” DG Atul Karwal said at the press conference.

Rescue operations

The cannines, as per the NDRF DG, were also able to sniff life in a girl buried deep into the debris. “Dogs are trained to sniff and sense the possibility of an alive person buried in the rubble. Our dog Julie sniffed something and barked to inform us that there is a person trapped inside, later our second dog Romeo reconfirmed and then we were able to rescue a girl alive,” Karwal revealed.

At the media interacton, one of the NDRF’s lead officer V N Parashar exhibited multiple military badges of Turkey’s policemen and armed forces personnel that were handed over to him as a gesture of gratitude. Similarly, his as well as that of his team members’ ‘NDRF-India’ and NDRF logo’ chest and arms badges were taken by the locals as a mark to remember ‘friends from India,’ Parashar stated.

In the wreckage, emotion filled messages were also exchanged, many a times in Hindi and typed with the help of Google translation, on WhatsApp.

Medical team

The Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pane also felicitated his medical team from 60 Para Field on their return after providing assistance in Turkey. “The hospital staff treated close to 3,600 patients. We have received messages from Turkish citizens expressing their gratitude for providing them assistance in the hour of need,” stated General Manoj Pande.

According to the Army chief, at a short notice of 6 hours, a 30-bedded hospital having specialist doctors was up and self-contained for 14 days in Turkey.

The ‘Operation Dost’ may have added to bonding that Bollywood stars have achieved for long. NDRF team members narrated positive impressions Indian movies and casts like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Deepika Padukone have had on Turkish people. Some, as per a sub-inspector, even wanted the NDRF personnel to convey to matinee idols that Turkish people love them.