House of rat-hole miner deployed in Uttarakhand tunnel rescue ops razed in DDA's demolition drive

    The Hawk
    February29/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Despite his plea, the authorities razed his house, leaving him and his team, famed for saving 41 lives, homeless. This incident highlights the plight of unrecognized heroes in the face of urban development.

    Wakeel Hassan

    New Delhi: A demolition drive by DDA razed several houses in Khajoori Khas on Wednesday, and one of those now homeless is Wakeel Hassan, a rat-hole miner feted for saving the 41 workers trapped in Uttarkashi’s Silkyara tunnel with his team last year in November.

    "We rescued 41 people in the Silkyara tunnel and in return we got this. Earlier, I had requested the authorities and the government to give this house to us but to no avail. Today, without any information, DDA came and demolished it," Hassan alleged.

    The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said the demolition drive was carried out on land that was “part of planned development land”. Police said several structures built illegally were demolished during the drive.

    "On February 28, a demolition drive was conducted by the DDA to remove encroachment from its acquired land in village Khajoori Khas. The land was part of planned development land," the DDA said in a statement, in response to a query about the drive.

    Earlier in the day, Hassan shared a video of the area, claiming the building he and his family was residing in was 'razed in the drive'.

    In the video clip, Hassan also claimed that he had to go to a police station in connection with this incident.

    In the video clip, he was accompanied by Munna Qureshi, another member of his team that rescued the trapped workers, who also said they were beaten up by the police.

    When contacted, a Delhi Police officer said several other structures that were built illegally were demolished by the authorities. "We gave them the assistance in controlling law and order during the drive," he said.

    Hassan and five other members of the rat-hole mining team live in north-east Delhi's Khajoori Khas, while the rest are from Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr.

    Their special mining techniques were crucial in removing the rubble inside the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand. Forty-one workers got trapped when a part of the tunnel collapsed on November 12 and remained trapped for around 17 days before being rescued.