Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue: ‘Played ludo & gossiped to ward off negativity; found solace in prayers’ - Hindustan Times
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Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue: ‘Played ludo & gossiped to ward off negativity; found solace in prayers’

ByDEO KANT PANDEY
Nov 29, 2023 07:35 PM IST

Inside the tunnel, communication links were established to ease the concerns of their worried families.

Lakhimpur Kheri: The echo of a deafening thud startled Manjeet Chaudhary and his comrades inside Uttarkashi’s Silkyara tunnel on the early morning of November 12. Recounting the incident over the phone, Manjeet, hailing from Bhairampur village in Kheri district, shared the gripping tale of their rescue.

Manjeet Chaudhary (HT Photo)
Manjeet Chaudhary (HT Photo)

A portion of the tunnel had collapsed, severing their connection with the outside world. Fear gripped them, and Manjeet, in those anxious hours, found solace in prayers, contemplating the destiny that awaited them.

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Gabbar Singh Negi, an elder in their group, emerged as a pillar of strength, instilling courage and patience among the 41 trapped workers. Eventually, they found a means of communication through a 4-inch drainage pipe inside the tunnel, clearing its entrance to connect with the outside on November 13.

Relief swept through them as responses from the rescue teams reached them, boosting their morale. Bravery echoed within the tunnel as team members motivated each other, maintaining faith in the ongoing rescue efforts.

Manjeet, who underwent a health checkup after being airlifted to Rishikesh AIIMS, narrated the initial provision of dry fruits and regular food through specially drilled pipes, a gesture that kept their spirits intact.

Inside the tunnel, communication links were established to ease the concerns of their worried families. Manjeet, expressing gratitude for the ceaseless efforts of the Union, Uttarakhand government, and the rescue teams, hailed the government’s arrangements for counseling, preventing them from succumbing to disheartenment.

Recalling their time inside, Manjeet painted a picture of camaraderie, where they walked, played ludo, and engaged in gossip to ward off negativity. As they were finally rescued on Wednesday night, hope and gratitude radiated from the rescued workers, grateful for the Herculean task accomplished in just 17 days.

Manjeet’s father, Chaudhary Chauhan, and his mother say that they would no longer permit Manjeet to engage in such risky jobs. They had already experienced the loss of their eldest son, Deepu, last year in Mumbai. When asked about this and his future plans, Manjeet said, “We are very poor people and must do something for our livelihood.” However, he added that he would plan his next course of action upon returning to his village.

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