Unusual Events

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 25 Dec 2023

Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

A series of unusual events have recently taken place in the state of  Uttarakhand in India. This state is near to the Himalayas where it is generally cold and is snow covered for a large part of the year. It also has some hills and  up and down topography with some natural tunnels and winding pathways. These hills  had been holding many (41)  labourers in custody by trapping these men for a long duration of 17 days.

The events that I have referred to above, fortunately ended happily  on 28 November. What had happened about two and a half weeks back was that forty one (41) labourers who were working in the hills of the state of Uttarakhand got trapped in a tunnel in the state. They could not come out of the tunnel and had no access to food and water.

How the state government came to know about this trapping of the labourers was that the wives and other relatives (sons, brothers, sisters ) began to feel the grief and sorrow of this entrapment and approached the local government about this sad and grim situation of labourers being trapped. Altogether, it was estimated that 41 labourers had been trapped in the hills and tunnels of the state of Uttarakhand.

The local government tried to free these men but when its efforts failed, the Central government of India was informed and the latter tried to free the trapped labourers by various efforts. When even their efforts did not succeed, the issue of how to feed these men, how to provide clean air to them, became essential items of the efforts of freeing these trapped men.

From the videos that were taken of this situation, it became clear that freeing these men was not going to be easy. What steps should be taken to ensure that these labourers could survive while efforts to free them were being taken. It was decided to send some food and clean air in the tunnel for their survival. How to send these was not easy but somehow through some unusual steps, this was partly ensured. It was also decided to have ambulances ready to take them to hospitals after they were freed to ensure their good health since it was felt that they would be suffering from some ailment or disease during their imprisonment .

After all these unusual efforts, the labourers were somehow extricated from their entrapment on 28 November. What a relief was felt by all — their families, government technicians, medical personnel and the local officials when they were taken out from their weird imprisonment. Even the Prime Minister of the country Mr Narendra Modi came to meet these men and to ensure that they received necessary help. Mr Modi started talking to these men to know what could be done to normalise their lives to the extent possible. Apart from medical help, they were granted one lakh (one hundred thousand) rupees each by the Prime Minister.

These men are now out of their imprisonment but mentally they are feeling lost and sad after a harrowing period of  17 days inside a collapsed under construction tunnel.  Efforts by the Prime Minister, local officials, medical personnel are continuing to normalise the conditions of the trapped men. For how long, these efforts of normalisation can continue, nobody can predict. Fortunately the wives of these men and their children are also helping them to return to normal mental and physical condition.

After the men were rescued, the Indian President — Draupadi Murmu stated :

‘I congratulate the scientists and experts who performed one of the most difficult rescue missions in history.’

An unusual never heard nightmare and dilemma has ended but its account is continuing to appear in the press and on television. As an example,  one of the Indian newspapers headlined the event of rescuing the workers by  its Headline :

A Mountain Moved
41 RESCUED

The workers have been pulled out of the tunnel in the hills but its shock will reverberate in the press and in the government circles for a long time . It will take a long time for the trapped men to overcome the shock and grief they have endured for the long duration that seemed to them to be endless. However, they will feel relieved to know that apart from their respective families, most Indians are feeling happy that their ordeal has ended and normalisation process has started.

It is interesting and educative to know what one of the trapped men stated after coming out of the entrapment:

‘We were restless, hungry, we prayed silently but we never lost hope!’

This event is an unusual one in the history of India. It is a learning experience for government officials, medical personnel and even ordinary citizens of India. While such an event is not likely to recur, its aftermath of the steps taken by the government will be considered to have been taken in good spirits by most people. These steps have brought a sense of relief and goodwill for most people of India.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Dec 2023.

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One Response to “Unusual Events”

  1. anaisanesse says:

    >Instead, in the “civilised West”, we have the government of the most advanced democratic nation in the world (!) encouraging and helping the “only democracy in the Middle East” to ensure that this kind of torture of people is done on purpose and continued until eradication of far more than 41 people who happen to be different from the chosen ones in power.

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