Uttarkashi tunnel rescue | Families hope to find light at the end of the tunnel

Some family members have come from Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and camped outside the site for days waiting with bated breath to see their loved ones step out of the collapsed tunnel in the flesh

Updated - November 22, 2023 10:52 am IST

Published - November 21, 2023 09:41 pm IST - New Delhi

Rajni Kisku, wife of a trapped worker (Birender Kisku) from Banka, Bihar, talks on phone near the collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district on November 19, 2023.

Rajni Kisku, wife of a trapped worker (Birender Kisku) from Banka, Bihar, talks on phone near the collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district on November 19, 2023. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

Rajni Kisku from Bihar’s Banka district could not hold her tears when she, on November 21, was made to speak to her husband Virender Kisku who is one among the 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district. The couple, who were hearing from each other after 11 days, asked about each other’s health. The husband, who tried his best to sound strong, told his wife that he will be out soon.

Also Read: Hopes and despair as rescue efforts continue at Uttarkashi | In pictures

Talking to The Hindu, Ms. Rajni said that she had lost hopes that she will ever be able to hear from Mr. Virender.

| Video Credit: ANI

“He asked about my health, our children’s studies and if the our parents are fine or not. He was trying to sound strong but I could feel that even he is desperate to come out,” said Rajni who reached Uttarkashi later last week.

Since the day she landed in Silkyara along with her brother-in-law, she spends the entire day sitting outside the tunnel in hope that her husband will come out of the tunnel in good shape.

A family member of a trapped worker talks on the phone outside the under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.

A family member of a trapped worker talks on the phone outside the under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

She has not told her four children — three daughters and a son — about the situation of their father so that their studies do not get hampered.

Also read: ‘Canopy’ solution to restart drilling in Uttarkashi tunnel rescue, says Highways Secretary 

Similar is the desperation of Bonu Naik, the brother of Mahadev Naik who is trapped inside the tunnel. Mr. Bonu had travelled from his village in Jharkhand along with his maternal uncle, to see the progress of rescue operations and speak to his brother once, through the pipes installed at the site.

Family members of the trapped workers, on November 19, 2023.

Family members of the trapped workers, on November 19, 2023. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

“Only me and my uncle have come here as we could only manage two train tickets. The government is giving us free food and accommodation but this is not [what] we are looking for. No one here is telling us when my brother will be out,” Mr. Bonu said.

Restless calls

At Mr. Bonu Naik’s home, his parents have made restless and frequent calls to him throughout the day. He patiently answered them and then wiped off tears as he retains the hope until his brother comes out safely.

Choudhary Lal, father of Manjeet Lal, another worker trapped in the tunnel is most anxious among all. Mr. Manjeet is his only surviving son as his elder son died at a construction site in Maharashtra in 2022. Mr. Choudhary, who neither has a mobile phone nor much money in hand, is praying with folded hands outside the small temple erected outside the tunnel.

Back at Mr. Choudhary’s home in a village called Behrampur in Uttar Pradesh, his brother Shree Krishna is taking care of Mr. Manjeet’s mother who fell unconscious every time someone talks about Mr. Manjeet.

“We lost our elder son in a tragedy. Now, we can’t afford to lose the other [son] in another,” said Mr. Krishna who is planning to join his brother in Silkyara on Wednesday.

“Ye keh rahe hain ki parson tak nikal layenge bacche ko [they are saying that they will bring out the children by Thursday],” Mr. Krishna told The Hindu with hopes pinning on the briefing given to the family by the rescue agencies.

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