India's NDRF personnel along with the Turkish Army during rescue and relief operations in earthquake-hit Turkiye, in Gaziantep, Feb.10, 2023. (Photo | PTI)
India's NDRF personnel along with the Turkish Army during rescue and relief operations in earthquake-hit Turkiye, in Gaziantep, Feb.10, 2023. (Photo | PTI)

'Operation Dost' winning hearts in quake-ravaged Turkiye

On a different note, earthquakes are a regular occurrence in that part of the world as the tectonic plates are seismically active.

Two images of Indian personnel deployed in earthquake-hit Turkiye were heartwarming on a day when the body count was otherwise grim, as the toll there and in neighbouring Syria has topped 21,000. A video of a stretchered six-year-old girl wrapped in a blanket with a rescuer carefully holding her neck after pulling the child out of a Turkiye rubble showed the professional skills and empathy of the Indian NDRF teams working there as part of Operation Dost. Every life saved is a victory against time and the elements.

The survival window is rapidly closing in the region where rain and freezing temperatures have made rescue that much more difficult. The other photo was of a grateful local woman hugging and kissing a female Indian Army personnel at what appeared to be a field hospital that got operational in Turkiye. India has already sent loads of relief materials besides personnel, sniffer dogs and specialised equipment for the rescue efforts.

It was a quick outreach to save lives in their hour of need without geopolitical considerations. Contrast it with Turkiye President Erdogan shooing off Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif hours before he was to board a flight to Ankara to offer his condolences, and the short shrift he got is stark. To put it in context, Erdogan has been raising Kashmir in the global fora for quite some time now at the behest of Pakistan, though his position was quite nuanced at the UN General Assembly last year. The softer tone was seen as the outcome of his one-on-one with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Samarkand Summit.

On a different note, earthquakes are a regular occurrence in that part of the world as the tectonic plates are seismically active. Yet, there is growing evidence that this was a man-made tragedy in Turkiye as quite a few multi-storeyed buildings that collapsed like pancakes were claimed to be quake-proof when sold to prospective home buyers. The heat is already on the housing sector regulators. No wonder Erdogan is grappling with popular anger at ground zero.

As for Syria, India has flown in relief supplies despite global sanctions, as curbs don’t matter when the scale of the tragedy is colossal. The need of the hour is to reach food, water, shelter and medical aid for the thousands of survivors on both sides of the border to avert another gargantuan humanitarian crisis.

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