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Huge Indian relief for Nepal


Indian is flying in relief supplies and rescue teams into Kathmandu. Photo: Bdnews24.com

Indian is flying in relief supplies and rescue teams into Kathmandu. Photo: Bdnews24.com

India has suffered in the huge earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday with reports of at least 40 deaths in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is more keen to prove a point to neighbours, reports Bdnews24.com on April 26.

With state governments more or less able to manage the crisis in the Indian states, Delhi has focused its energies in helping out Nepal, where at least 1,805 have died and nearly 5,000 were injured in Saturday's devastating earthquake.

Within hours of the earthquake, Prime Minister Modi convened a high-level meeting attended by his cabinet ministers and top bureaucrats like national security adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishanker 

Mr Jaishankar said Prime Minister Modi, who has made strengthening India’s relations with its neighbours  his top foreign policy priorities, has given Indian officials a “strong message to step forward” and help Nepal out of this huge crisis.

“Today’s Earthquake has made us all very sad,” a tweet from Mr. Modi’s official Twitter account said. “Nepal’s pain is our pain,” another tweet said.

Mr Modi spoke to Nepal’s president, Ram Baran Yadav, and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, assuring them of “support and assistance during this tough time,” a tweet from Modi's personal Twitter account said.

Mr Modi has made two visits to Nepal in his first year in office, one for talks with the Nepalese government and another for a summit of South Asian countries. He made a very positive impact, says Nepalese commentator K C Sunil. 

The Indian prime minister is looking to bolster his country’s leadership role at a time when China has made deep in-roads into countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka.

India’s external affairs ministry says many aircraft – including a C-130 Super Hercules and two C-17 Globemaster transports – have started flying into Nepal, carrying more than 200 specialised  personnel of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF)  and a mobile hospital. 

These huge aircrafts were carrying 15 tonnes of relief supplies each including heavy earth-moving equipment  and they will fly several sorties, Indian Air Force officials said. 

P K Srivastava leading the NDRF teams to Nepal said they will focus on search and rescue operations first in Kathmandu valley and then in central Nepal where villages have been badly hit.

Several Indian mobile service providers have said calls between India and Nepal will not be charged for the next few days even as public service giant BSNL said calls will only be charged at local rates.

These giant aircrafts are involved in a two way operation - carrying relief personnel and material to Nepal and pulling out stranded Indians from the Himalayan country.

"After the huge pullout operation from Yemen, this will again prove that the government cares for its own people. This is a message going out across the country," said a top Indian official.

Helicopters were also pressed into service to help with rescue effort and the distribution of food to people rendered homeless in rain, the officials said .

Mr Jaishankar said more aircraft would fly to Nepal in the coming days carrying ready-to-eat meals, specialized engineering teams, tents and blankets. India will also be working to bring Indian nationals home from Nepal, he said.

Here again, India may do what it did in Yemen - help other friendly countries like Bangladesh pull out its own nationals.

Sapna Kumari, the manager of the Indian under-14 women football team playing a tournament in Kathmandu , told CNN-IBN that her team of 23 was stuck in a Kathmandu hotel.

The girls from Bangladesh are also there in the same hotel.

"The Indian embassy has told me they will pull out all the girls if their managers agreed to it," Sapna told CNN-IBN.

In the past, Indian leaders have flown in relief or offered cash to neighbours hit by disasters.

But Modi is sending a very different message - his government will do what it takes to help a neighbour out of a major crisis like this.

"In a way, this prepares his own system for handling a similar crisis back home if that was to happen. For Modi, disaster relief operations or crisis situations like Yemen provide an opportunity to his own people and others in the neighborhood that [indicate] his is a government with a difference," said a top BJP official.

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