It was indeed a watershed moment for the Disaster Management Task Force of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations (India) when they were invited by Jammu & Kashmir Armed Police to conduct a two day Emergency Response and Disaster Management Training at Armed Police headquarters in Zewan, Srinagar. During the training held on 4th and 5th April, 51 members of the state police force received extensive training in rescue and recovery operations in various scenarios like Hurricanes, Floods, Earthquake, Landslides etc.
Danger lurking behind Beauty
The mesmerizing beauty of Kashmir belies the spectre of natural disaster that looms large over this land. The capital Srinagar lies in a high-risk seismic zone indicative of potentially catastrophic scales of devastation from earthquakes. Landslides and flash floods triggered by unprecedented monsoon rains claimed hundreds of lives in this state in September 2014.
Test is my Taste - Baba
Indeed, a week prior to the proposed Emergency response and Disaster Management Training workshop, nature seemed on the verge of unleashing her fury again with the river Jhelum in spate on March 30th, 2015. As Kashmir braced for floods, the workshop seemed destined to be called off. Unseasonal rains continued to lash Srinagar on April 1st and 2nd, and the National Coordinator of the Disaster Management Task Force, Sri S Thyagarajan prepared to direct his team of trainers not to embark from Chennai. When he called them with this dreary news, he found them already checked in at Chennai Airport, and surprisingly optimistic that the programme would be held. “In the past four years, at no programme of Swami’s, have we had to cancel an event, and this programme is bound to happen”, they said. Chiming in with them was the dedicated Vice-President of the Punjab Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations, Sri Maninder Singh who declared “If there are floods, we will join them in Disaster Management. If there are no floods we will do the training “. In the end, it was the indefatigable spirit and unwavering faith of the Sri Sathya Sai sevaks, the only solution counseled by Baba to HIS own tests, that won the day and with the Grace of Bhagawan the waters receded in time for the workshop to commence as scheduled on 4th April!
Present at the inaugural session were Sri S M Sahai the Additional DGP of J & K Police and other senior officials of the force. Over the two days of the workshop, the trainees witnessed presentations on the scientific basis of various disasters like the cyclone, earthquake, floods, landslides and Tsunami and received practical training in methods applicable to specialized emergency situations like high-rise building rescue, fires, floods etc. The river rescue training was held over the Jhelum whose waters were still turbid after the flooding! The trainers recalled that as they prospected the banks of the river for an appropriate place to conduct the training, some of the locals accosted them in curiosity, and when the trainers told them they were from the Sri Sathya Sai Organization, they folded their hands in reverence and said, “Yes, we know of Baba!”
Organizing this training workshop is without doubt another feather in the cap for the Sri Sathya Sai Disaster Management Task Force that traces its provenance to the directions given by Bhagawan in 2002 to the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations to begin training of youth in Disaster Management. The capabilities of the task force first came to the fore in the wake of the Tsunami that struck the coast of Tamil Nadu in December 2004. Since then more than 50,000 youth have been trained in Tamil Nadu itself which includes participants from Tamil Nadu Police Force, Tamil Nadu Fire Services Department, and even employees from L&T, TCS etc., Everyone will recall the yeoman services rendered recently by this team after the devastation wrought by the cyclone Hudhud in Orissa and coastal Andhra Pradesh.
The Police praises the LORD
At the end of the training the J&K Police Armed Police Force came away not only with enhanced capabilities in disaster management but also an awareness of the role of values and prayer in one’s life. Mr Muzzafur Jan, DSP summed it up best when he said at the valedictory session of the workshop, “Jab Khudha ko bhool jathein hain shailab aatha hai. Jub Usko yaadh rakthein hain, wo tumko bachatha hai( When you forget God, you get floods, when you remember Him, He protects you)! As for the trainers, as they returned from the land of which the Mughal Persian poet Amir Khusrau famously said, “If there is paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here”, they had only one thought and prayer: “Swamis’ love alone can heal the hearts and make love blossom in Kashmir and that is possible only if we shed all our prejudices of the past and serve courageously”.