"Assured Us, But...": Tunnel Rescue Hero's SOS After House Demolished

"The reward we got for saving 41 from Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel was that our house had been demolished," Vakeel Hasan said.

New Delhi:

One of the houses that was razed in the Delhi Development Authority's (DDA) recent demolition drive belonged to Vakeel Hasan, a rat-hole miner who played a key role in the Uttarakhand tunnel rescue operation last year. The DDA said that the demolition on Wednesday was part of a broader effort to clear illegal encroachments in the Khajuri Khas area of northeast Delhi.

However, Hasan and other residents argue that they were not given any prior notice. Hasan expressed his dismay, stating, "I am Vakeel Hasan. The reward we got for saving 41 from Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel was that our house had been demolished. I need help. They have caught me, and my children, and are keeping us in a police station. They have also beaten some of us."

Munna Qureshi, another miner involved in the rescue operation, echoed Hasan's sentiments, saying, "The government had assured us that they would give us the privilege of sitting at home, but they have snatched our team member's home."

The DDA countered these claims, asserting that prior information had been given to all the residents. Officials also said that the land was designated for planned development.

The Silkyara-Barkot tunnel rescue operation gained widespread recognition for its use of rat-hole mining, a practice banned for safety reasons. The miners, including Vakeel Hasan and Munna Qureshi, stepped in when high-tech, imported machines failed during the operation in November 2023.

Mr Hasan, a rat-hole miner employed by a Delhi engineering services company, vividly described the moment of the successful rescue. "They hugged me, cheered in applause, and thanked me profusely," he had said after the trapped workers who spent 17 days in the tunnel were successfully brought out.