Silkyara tunnel rescue | After swinging between hope and despair, relatives of workers breathe easy

The families of the workers who were trapped inside the tunnel had to undergo agony and anxiety in the biting winter cold; they say these were the toughest days of their lives and ask government to ensure that such accidents do not recur

November 28, 2023 09:52 pm | Updated November 29, 2023 06:50 am IST - Silkyara:

This photo posted by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on X shows a worker ahead of his rescue from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi on November 28, 2023. Photo via ANI

This photo posted by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on X shows a worker ahead of his rescue from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi on November 28, 2023. Photo via ANI

“I won’t send him here [Silkyara] ever again, no matter what,” said Romen Narajari, brother of Ram Poshak Narajari who is one among the 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel after a collapse that took place on November 12, on the day of Deepavali. After multiple efforts, all the 41 workers were rescued on Tuesday.

Romen, who belongs to Ramfalbil Village in Kokrajhar, Assam, reached the tunnel site on November 14 and was awaiting the rescue of his elder brother for over a fortnight. With a small bag of clothes, Romen spent the nights at a small room provided to him by the Uttarakhand government, metres away from the tunnel. When it used to get colder in the nights, Romen used to sit next to the bonfire set up by the police near the barricades at the tunnel site.

Also read: Uttarkashi tunnel collapse Day 17 LIVE updates on November 28

“They first said that my brother is coming out on [November] 17. Hopes again picked up. Now, when they said that they are coming out on Tuesday, I could not believe,” Romen added.

Among the 41 workers trapped in the tunnel, two each were from Uttarakhand and Assam, one from Himachal Pradesh, five from Bihar, three from West Bengal, eight from Uttar Pradesh, five from Odisha and 15 are from Jharkhand.

Life remained no less difficult for Chaudhary from Behrampur village in Uttar Pradesh, whose son Manjeet remained in the tunnel for 17 days. This incident was even more distressing for Mr. Chaudhary as he lost his elder son at a construction site last year.

Mera ek bacha paudha bach gya [one of the two saplings of mine is saved]”, Mr. Chaudhary said. He was referring to his son as sapling.

‘Toughest days of life’

“These were the toughest days of my life as every day my wife used to cry on phone asking me that when my son will be out. I had no answer to her questions. I am happy that our long wait ended on Tuesday but the government must ensure that nothing like this should happen again,” Mr. Chaudhary said, adding that he won’t let his son come to Silkyara ever again.

Krishna Patelz, maternal uncle of trapped worker Deepak Kumar who belongs to Muzaffarpur, Bihar, had mortgaged the jewellery of his sister and took loan to get a car to Silkyara from their village. He said Deepak’s father is ill since the day he heard about the news of his getting trapped in the tunnel. He too will not let Deepak come back, ever again.

Rajni Tundu, wife of Bhirendra Kissu, told The Hindu that she was asked to pack her bags by the officials near the revised site and that was the movement she informed about their father’s freedom to her children back in Tetriya village in Bihar.

Rajni has not informed her three children about the mishap that took place with their father till Tuesday.

“There were days when I felt like life has ended for us. Whenever I spoke to him over phone, he used to cry and ask about children. I am glad that our miseries ended but I will not let him work out of our hometown, ever again,” Rajni added.

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