21 September 2020
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JAIPUR: A soldier is never off duty, and Maj Hemant Raj of Sapta Shakti Command, HQ in Jaipur, proved it, when he flew to Kerala, on a leave, but instead of going home, threw himself into the relief work there. He organised a team of defence persons on leave, veterans and local fishermen boats, to help marooned people. This was done unofficially and in his own capacity. He is presently at Chengannur, which is one of the worst-affected areas, in rehabilitation along with his team of volunteers, some of whom are those he rescued himself. Where he is continuing with relief operations, Raj said, “On August 18, I was at Delhi airport to take my flight to Kochi, when I saw the visuals of the flood on television. My flight to Kochi got cancelled but I requested the staff to put me in any flight going to Kerala. I managed to fly to Trivandrum and from there; I got into an IAF aircraft which got me to Chengannur. Since I was in uniform, some soldiers who were on leaving there approached me and we started off with a team of five to six people, comprising of serving and retired defence personnel.” Post this, Raj and his team of volunteers took boats from the local fishermen and started rescuing locals there.

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