His rocky resolve helped reach Mahi | india | Hindustan Times
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His rocky resolve helped reach Mahi

india Updated: Jun 25, 2012 00:09 IST

But for local man Saurav Khan's skills, recovering Mahi's body from the borewell may not have been possible, even on Sunday.

The rescue operation had hit a hurdle in the form of a rock on Friday afternoon while drilling the connecting tunnel, just a foot away from where Mahi was trapped.

The rescuers groped in the dark for more than 24 hours, deciding how to drill through the rock - they dug a deviated tunnel, roped in a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) team to assist with a GPS-based tracker device.

But nothing concrete happened until the 27-year-old was roped in, thanks to the intervention of the Kho village panchayat members.

Instead of drilling through the rock, Khan approached her through the rock's edges and made a ramp to reach her.

Khan says he had spotted the girl around 5.30am on Sunday itself, but was whisked away from the spot.

"I could make out from the smell that Mahi had died," Khan told HT.

But the team sought his help around 12noon when it failed to rescue the child on its own.

"They called me again as the body was stuck between two stones," he said.

While trained army personnel took 15 to 20-minute-long turns to go inside and dig the tunnel due to suffocation, Khan went inside several times and stayed there for as long as one-and-half hours.

"What may be a difficult mission for them is my routine work. I would have dug the entire connecting tunnel in not more than 17-18 hours," he said, a claim backed by several villagers.

He said the authorities offered him army fatigues, but he refused to wear them.

Officials, however, remained tight-lipped about Khan's role and appeared not to accept that his efforts were the real game-changer in the overly delayed rescue operation.

When asked if he was paid anything for the role he played in the marathon rescue effort, he said, "I was given Rs. 15,000."