UP's workers rescued from Silkyara tunnel reunite with families, get rousing reception

03:42 PM Dec 02, 2023 | PTI |

For the locals of Motipur Kala village here, it was both Diwali and Holi on the same day when six workers rescued from Uttarkahand’s Silkyara Tunnel reached their village to a rousing reception with aabir gulaal, fireworks and slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai.’ As the six workers reached their village Friday late evening, the locals welcomed them with garlands and flowers. They were greeted with bursting of fire crackers, candles, earthen lamps and aabir-gulaal (coloured powder used in Holi) was strewed in the air.


It was celebration all around with the youths dancing to DJ songs in an open area specially decorated for the occasion with some of them rejoicing on their own take of a popular Bollywood song as they sang ”tunnel se aaya mera dost, dost ko salaam karo”.

As many as 41 workers were trapped for almost 17 days inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district after a portion of it collapsed on November 12. They were rescued on November 28 after a multi-agency operation.

Food, medicines and other essentials were sent to them through a six-inch wide pipe pushed through the rubble of the collapsed portion.

Rescued worker Satyadev’s brother Mahesh who had reached Uttarkashi on November 16 told PTI that celebrations continued in the village till late in the night on Friday.


”Puja is being performed in the homes of all the labourers today (Saturday). In the morning, we all went to Kalchu Das Baba’s Shiv temple and Kali temple. In the afternoon, everyone will go to the temple of Jabdaha Baba located in the middle of the forest,” Mahesh said.

”20 people of the village had gone to Uttarkashi to work as labourers. Of these, six were on duty in the tunnel where the accident occurred. The remaining people were outside. None of them were ready to return to the village until the workers came out safely and all of them selflessly helped in the rescue operation,” Mahesh said.

Overwhelmed by their meeting with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow and the grand welcome given to them, the six workers — Satyadev, Ankit, Ram Milan, Santosh, Jai Prakash and Ramsundar — reached Motipur Kala in a minibus on Friday with friends, well-wishers and family members rushing out on the roads dancing and singing.

Desperate to somehow catch a glimpse of their village men for whom they had been praying all these days, the people surrounded the bus to welcome them home. Earlier, Shrawasti DM Krutika Sharma welcomed everyone at the DM residence and provided refreshments to the workers and their families.

The DM directed the officials concerned to provide housing facilities under Central schemes to the families of all the six workers, as per their eligibility, and also provide them ‘Ayushman Gold’ cards besides extending benefits of other government schemes.

”By the grace of God and the support of the government, we have got a new life,” rescued worker Ankit said after returning to Motipur Kala.

”It was about two hours after the accident that we came to know that we were under thousands of tonnes of debris but all the while, the rescuers did not allow there to be a shortage of oxygen inside,” Ankit said.

”Our families were a bit relieved after we got to talk to them through a microphone from inside the tunnel,” he added.

Another worker Jai Prakash said,”We used to play games to pass our time inside the tunnel and somehow spend the time. It was great to meet Yogi ji on return. Our morale has increased after talking to him.” Satyadev said he used to feel anxious while he was inside the tunnel but was thankful to the rescuers and the government as they had left no stone unturned in getting him out.

Disaster management expert Arun Mishra, the state coordinator who returned with the workers, said, ”The state government had given me the responsibility of taking all the workers back to the village safely and that got completed late on Friday evening. Today I feel very good that our people are safe and able to meet their families.” Mishra, a resident of Bahraich associated with the Red Cross Society of Shrawasti, was sent to Uttarkashi by the Uttar Pradesh government as the state coordinator and he was present there since November 13.

Before their arrival in Shrawasti on Friday evening, the workers were given a reception in neighbouring Bahraich’s Prashuram Chowk by offering them shawls and sweets.

On crossing over to Shrawasti from Bahraich, they were welcomed at different spots like Lakshman Nagar, PWD Guest House with garlands and raising of slogans such as ”Bharat Mata ki Jai.”


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