After an extensive rescue and relief efforts, India wrapped up Operation Maitri as Nepal asked rescue teams from India and 33 other countries to leave as it prepared to launch massive operations to rehabilitate millions of victims of the devastating quake.
India was one of the first countries to respond to the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 (Saturday) and launched the largest ever relief operation in response to a natural disaster on foreign soil.
The 7.9 magnitude quake that killed over 7,000 people, including 41 Indians and injured 14,355 has affected around 8 million people out of the 28 million population of Nepal.
Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had said his country was indebted to India for its swift response to the humanitarian crisis following the devastating quake.
Within six hours of the tragedy, India had sent the first air force flight which landed in Kathmandu with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue teams and relief material.
Amid speculations that Nepal’s request to all 34 international search and rescue teams to begin the process of withdrawal was directed at India, its government denied reports that India has been singled out for de-induction.
The decision also came a day after #GoHomeIndianMedia was trending on social media.
The head of NDRF, among the first foreign organisations to arrive, said it had been asked by the Nepal government to conclude its operations.
“All the search and rescue teams, not the relief (teams)… have been asked to return,” NDRF chief OP Singh told the media.
As NDRF teams started being withdrawn, India said it is only because their work in the Himalayan country was accomplished that they were leaving.
Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, who handles the disaster management division in the home ministry that controls the NDRF, said the Nepalese government has asked the NDRF to demobilise so that reconstruction and rehabilitation work can be started.
“It should not be taken in any other sense,” he said.
Nepalese ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay clarified that India will remain engaged in the rehabilitation process. He asked the media to take the situation positively and added that rescue work in Nepal is about to be completed.