Munna Qureshi: The Heroic Rat-Hole Miner Who Led the Uttarkashi Rescue Operation


Munna Qureshi recounted the emotional moment when he removed the final rock on Tuesday evening, revealing the trapped workers

The rat-hole miners played a pivotal role in the successful rescue operation in the Silkyara tunnel, located in Uttarkashi. After 17 days of relentless efforts, all 41 trapped workers emerged from the entrapment unharmed, marking the end of a challenging mission. The rescuers, including the rat-hole miners, have been hailed as heroes for their unwavering dedication and teamwork.

The breakthrough in the rescue operation came on Tuesday when Munna Qureshi, a 29-year-old rat-hole miner employed by a Delhi-based trenchless engineering services company, became the first rescuer to reach the trapped men.

Munna Qureshi and his team of fellow miners were brought to Uttarakhand specifically to remove the remaining 12 meters of debris obstructing the tunnel.

Rat-hole mining, a method involving the extraction of coal by digging small pits, was banned in 2014 due to its unscientific nature. However, the unique skills possessed by these miners proved to be crucial in this dire situation when other techniques failed. The US-made auger machine, initially deployed for the rescue, suffered a mechanical failure and had to be extracted from the tunnel.

Munna Qureshi recounted the emotional moment when he removed the final rock on Tuesday evening, revealing the trapped workers. “They hugged me, cheered in applause, and thanked me profusely,” said Qureshi. His heroic efforts have earned him widespread praise and recognition as the hero of the operation.

Following Qureshi’s breakthrough, other rat-hole miners, namely Monu Kumar, Wakeel Khan, Feroz, Parsadi Lodhi, and Vipin Rajout, successfully reached the trapped men through the tunnel. The workers, who had endured a lengthy wait for a breakthrough from the other side, erupted in joy and lifted the miners in celebration.

Expressing their gratitude, the trapped men even offered almonds to the rescuers as a token of appreciation. The miners stayed with the workers for half an hour until the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) arrived to facilitate their safe extraction.

The successful completion of the rescue operation has garnered praise from various quarters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his admiration for the spirit and teamwork demonstrated during the mission, highlighting it as an exceptional example of humanity in action.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and Union Minister of State VK Singh joined the rescue officials in congratulating the rescuers on their remarkable achievement.

The tireless efforts and bravery exhibited by the rat-hole miners in rescuing the 41 trapped workers in the Uttarkashi tunnel have not only saved lives but also served as a testament to the indomitable spirit of human compassion and solidarity.

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