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Next 24 hours critical for Siachen braveheart

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Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, miraculously rescued from the Siachen glacier after being buried under 35 feet of snow for six days, was in coma and battling for life on Tuesday.

Doctors said the soldier from Karnataka, who along with nine other colleagues of the Madras Regiment had been assumed dead, was in “extremely critical” condition at the Army Research and Referral Hospital here.

The bodies of the other soldiers who too were swept away by an avalanche on February 3 at a height of 20,500 feet on the southern side of the glacier in Jammu and Kashmir were also found, the army said.

The dead included a Junior Commissioned Officer.

A medical bulletin said Koppad, who was flown to Delhi early on Tuesday, was in shock with low blood pressure and was on ventilator in the ICU. The next one or two days were critical for him.

“He has been placed on ventilator to protect his airway and lungs in view of his comatose state,” said the bulletin issued at 4 p.m.

“He remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24-48 hours due to the complications caused by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body.

“He has pneumonia and his investigations have revealed liver and kidney dysfunction. Fortunately, there was no cold exposure related frost

The soldier, being treated by experts, has been given fluids and drugs to bring up his blood pressure.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday lauded the “indomitable spirit” of Koppad. Modi visited the hospital along with army chief General Dalbir Singh.

Mukherjee said in a message to the army chief: “I am happy to know that Koppad has survived the avalanche… I applaud his indomitable spirit and ability to endure adverse conditions.”

Modi tweeted: “No words are enough to describe the endurance and indomitable spirit of Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier.”

In Karnataka, his distraught family and relatives prayed for his well being.

The soldier was luckily inside an “arctic tent” which possibly aided his survival despite being under the ice sheet, army sources said.

The tent is designed to withstand extreme temperatures and has a fibre-reinforced structure.

While Koppad’s survival is a miracle, doctors say he was possibly trapped in an air pocket which saved him.

“Air pocket created between the snow layers can possibly be a reason for his survival. Also, a strong will power to survive must have acted as an added advantage,” said H.S. Chauhan, president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.

Soldiers posted in harsh icy conditions are trained to look for air pockets in case of an avalanche and know how to clear the snow near the nose and the mouth so that they can keep breathing.

Even six days after the disaster, by which most people feared that none of the 10 soldiers could have survived, the army refused to give up its search operation in a hostile environment.

The efforts paid off late on Monday.

Doctors at the site immediately administered warm intravenous fluids, humidified warm oxygen and passive external re-warming — all of critical importance after the long time spent in the sub-zero environment.

Koppad was then flown out of the site on Tuesday by helicopter, along with a medical specialist, first to the Siachen base camp, then to Thois air base in Ladakh and finally to Delhi.

That’s where the soldier battles on — this time for his life.

India

Barricades to open on Jan 26 as police allow Tractor Rally

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The Delhi Police on Sunday said that after several round of talks with the farmers groups, it has permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi on January 26.

Police has said that the barricades would be lifted at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders on January 26 after the Republic Day parade is over and the farmers would be allowed to enter upto 100 kilometers within Delhi with their tractors in a circular path on the routes discussed with the farmers.

The route specified is from Singhu Border to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Kanjhawala, Bawana to Auchadi. From Tikri border, it will be to Nangloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda, Dhansa, Badli and the KMP and from Gazipur border to Apsara border to Hapur Road.

“We have told the farmers that the rally would start once the Republic Day parade is over. We expect with the cooperation of the farmers the rally would be peaceful,” Special Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Deependra Pathak, said.

However, the police said that they are on alert after intelligence inputs that various Twitter handles operating from across the border are active to disrupt the rally on January 26.

“According to our intelligence input, 308 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the rally to create disturbance. We are also concerned about the security of the rally given the threat perception,” he added.

Meanwhile, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out on their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to take part in the proposed tractor rally on January 26 in the national capital. Tractor-trolleys have now become a common sight at the Singhu border as the farmers have started bringing in the tractors to the protest site from villages in Punjab for the proposed rally.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states have been protesting at multiple border points of Delhi at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders since November-end. They are demanding a repeal of the three central farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year.

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Soldier injured in Pak ceasefire violation succumbs

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An Army soldier injured in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan on the Line of Control in J&K’s Rajouri district, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

An Indian Army statement said, “Pakistan Army had resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the LoC in Sunderbani sector of J&K on January 18 which was responded to strongly by our own troops.”

“In the incident, Naik Nishant Sharma of 10 JAK RIF was critically injured and was under treatment at the command hospital.

“Today the soldier succumbed to injuries. Naik Nishant Sharma was a brave, highly motivated and sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty.”

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CBI arrests labour official in TN in bribery case

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 The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Sunday that it had arrested a Regional Labour Commissioner on the charge of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000.

P Sivarajan, posted as Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) in Madurai, was held along with a private person N Murali after the CBI laid a trap on Saturday and caught them with the bribe amount.

A case was registered after a complaint that Sivarajan was demanding undue advantage from Murali, representing a private company, for issuing labour licence.

Searches were conducted at five places in Chennai and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), including the residence and offices of the accused, said the CBI.

Both the accused were produced in the court of Principal Special Judge for CBI cases, Chennai, and remanded to judicial custody till February 4.

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