The tragic Uttarakhand glacier disaster that gripped Chamoli district on February 7 not only took the lives of at least 61 people but also left a deep scar on the psyche of the survivors. Rescue operations were in full swing to help those trapped amid the desolation of snow-clad mountains.
Amongst these operations was a story of courage and determination . The rescue ops being undertaken at the Tapovan power tunnel in Uttarakhand was led by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Aparna Kumar.
A 2002-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Kumar is the senior-most field officer of the force on the ground. She is the sector in-charge of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) northern frontier based in Uttarakhand's capital Dehradun.
Kumar, who is also a mother of two, joined ITBP in 2018 on deputation. Hailing from Karnataka, the 45-year old is well known as the first woman IPS and ITBP officer to successfully conquer the South Pole, the southernmost point on the globe situated in Antarctica, in 2019.
She had her first brush with mountaineering when she was commanding a Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) battalion in Uttar Pradesh years ago. In her earlier interviews, Kumar had said that she did her advanced mountaineering course in July 2014 and since then there has been no looking back.
An NLSIU Bangalore graduate (1999), Kumar went on to join the IPS in 2002. In 2014, she added another feather to her cap after scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Carstensz Pyramid peak in Indonesia which is the highest peak in the Australia and Oceania region. The next year, she scaled Mount Elbrus and Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. Later, in 2016 after two attempts, she went on to scale Mount Everest.
In 2019, she received the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awardfrom President Ram Nath Kovind for her mountaineering achievements.
In the same year, she became the first IPS officer to complete the Seven Summit challenge by scaling Mt Denali, the highest peak in North America.
Kumar put all her experiences and achievements to use during the recent tragedy in Uttarakhand. Reportedly, she has been camping in the Tapovan-Joshimath area since the tragedy struck and is leading the ITBP in various multi-agency meetings that are being held close to ground zero.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)