Uttarakhand Tunnel Rescue Operation has Imprints of Hindu-Muslim Unity

By Syed Ali Mujtaba, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: In a befitting reply to the Hindutva forces who are working overtime to ostracize Muslims from India, seven Muslims and three Hindu workers united together to rescue 41 men trapped in in Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand on November 28.  The 41 persons were trapped for 17 days since November 12.

These Rat-Hole Miners, as they are called are;  Hasan, Munna Qureshi, Naseem Malik, Nasir Khan, Rashid Ansari, and Irshad Ansari, along with Monu Kumar, Saurabh, Jatin Kumar, Ankur, Devendra who come from Delhi and Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh.

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They were called into action when the power-generated drilling machine gave way and it took them around 26-27 hours to dig through around 12-15 meters of hole to reach the trapped persons.

These rescue workers who are aged between 20 and 45 dug the last stretch of the tunnel with their hands to rescue the trapped persons. They worked in four shifts of six hours each to make sure the work went on continuously. They dug roughly 12 meters in cramped pipes to reach the trapped men in a hopeless situation.

The rescue workers are employees of Delhi-based Rockwell Enterprises, who were sent on this special mission from Delhi by Mr Vaqeel Hasan, the head of the Rockwell Enterprise.

In a media briefing, Mr Vaqeel Hasan, while underscoring the diversity of faiths in his team emphasized that the job couldn’t have been done alone.

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 “In our team, there are both Hindus and Muslims and people from both religions worked hard to save these 41 lives. None of them could have done this alone, and this is the message I want to give to everyone… We should all live in harmony and not spread the poison of hate. We all want to give our 100 percent for the country… Please convey my message to everyone.” He was briefing the media after the rescue mission was accomplished

The rescue workers did not take any money for the work.  They said they were motivated to save the lives of 41 persons on whom “more than 140 crore people of India and the whole world were holding deep breath while watching this rare operation.

It won’t be out of context to mention the deteriorating Hindu-Muslim relations in Uttrakhand. During the last ‘Bakrid,’ festival Muslims in Uttarakhand were barred from offering Eid prayers in Badrinath town.

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Muslim residents of Badrinath who are mostly migrant laborers working on reconstruction projects at temples were asked by the authorities not to hold prayers inside the town and go to Joshimath, a neighboring town, some 25 miles away.

Hindutva militants in Uttarakhand also called for the mass expulsion of Muslims during the hate speech, vigilantism, and targeted communal violence in the state. Muslims’ homes and shops were marked with an ‘X’, and Muslim residents were forced to vacate the place.

 Newspapers had reported that a letter was sent by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to the Tehri District Magistrate giving an ultimatum to members of the Muslims Community to leave the Jaunpur valley and in particular the towns of Nainbagh, Jakhar, Nagtibba, Thatyur, Saklana, Damta, Purola, Barkot, and Uttarkashi, threatening their ethnic cleansing.

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Neither the Uttrakhand government nor the administration nor the judiciary intervened to prevent violent attacks against the Muslims in the state.

Now the demonstration of the Hindu-Muslim unity shown in the rescue mission of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel sends a message that is loud and clear; Hindu-Muslim unity remains an impregnable fort in India. The Hindutva zealots no matter how many times chant Jai Sri Ram, cannot breach this fort of unity that is constructed together after 1400 years of peaceful coexistence.

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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai

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Syed Ali Mujtaba

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Sr.Journalist, Author based in Chennai, India. Writes frequently for the USA based News Portal, TheIndiaObserver. He is author of the book Soundings on South Asia, New Dawn Press (2005). He can be reached at or TIO, at

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