Since 2016, the Tiranga Mountain Rescue (TMR) team has trained over 20,000 defense forces personnel.
Be it a snowstorm or an avalanche; the TMR team will be there to save and train the heroes of the Indian Army. On April 26, 2022, the Union Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh, met and congratulated the TMR team for working tirelessly to rescue and train the Indian defense personnel. “The location at which the TMR team was stationed has witnessed zero casualties to avalanches. Earlier there used to be a minimum of 20-25 sad casualties to avalanches. The TMR team has done a tremendous job,” said Rajnath Singh at the meeting.
Avalanches, one of the deadliest forces of nature, have killed thousands around the world. In India, on average, around 20 to 25 soldiers serving on the most dangerous mountain tops of the Himalayas have lost their lives to avalanches. From 2010 to 2020, a total of 368 defense personnel lost their lives to avalanches. As recently as February 2022, 7 Indian Army personnel were killed by an avalanche in Arunachal Pradesh. In November 2020, an Indian army soldier died after an avalanche hit an army post in the Kupwara district of the then Jammu and Kashmir state.
Team TMR’s mission
The avalanche in Siachen glacier in 2016, which killed ten soldiers, made Hemant Sachdev, entrepreneur and mountaineer (Everester), start the not-for-profit trust, the Tiranga Mountain Rescue team, to provide rescue and training to the heroes serving on the toughest terrain on Earth. TMR has a long-standing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Indian Army to provide special avalanche training and rescue support. With the goal to create a team that supports the Indian Army on a long-term basis with expert and specialized training, rescue support, and building a deep institutional knowledge base to deal with the presented challenges, TMR teams around the country visit over 140 posts every winter and train thousands of soldiers.
The Bravehearts of the TMR team have over 20 experienced mountaineers (veterans and civilians) who are continuously trained by the world’s premier mountain and avalanche rescue organization, Air – Zermatt in Switzerland. The training ensures that the TMR team is prepared for maximum toughness for the coming missions.
Presently, TMR has stationed a total of six teams with the Indian Army in the most inhospitable and avalanche-prone border areas (three in Kashmir, two in Ladakh, and one in Sikkim). Under the expertise of Col. Satish Sharma (retd.), the team is comprised of mountaineers who have been working for decades in avalanche mitigation and rescue missions.
TMR started working with the Indian Army in 2016 to provide a dedicated avalanche rescue cover in the Kashmir and Ladakh regions during the deadly winter season. From 2016 to 2018, it provided rescue services and later provided advanced training for cover, route analysis, rescue, and other missions in the highest, dangerous, and avalanche-prone areas of the mountains.
As the first professional mountain and avalanche rescue organization raised in India, the TMR team is on the mission to save the lives of those who serve a day and day night to protect billions of Indians. The team is deployed for six months at different locations in India and works 24×7.
“Due to the developments happening around the world and with the rising dangers of climate change, natural disasters will happen, and an avalanche is one of the most dangerous of all. At times like these, the team has done an excellent job, and I congratulate them,” said Rajnath Singh to team TMR at the meeting.
Story By : Jinit Parmar, Social correspondent, Maharashtra