Mission Raniganj: How an engineer saved 65 miners in India

The courage and resilience of this engineer left an indelible mark in history.

By Sakul Kundra 

This Friday is yet another achievement for Indian Bollywood cinema to reflect a biopic that reflects the common man’s traits of courage and unwavering bravery. 

It is a real-life, inspiring story of mining engineer Jaswant Singh Gill, who saved the lives of 65 miners, and is picturised on the big screen by none other than Akshay Kumar in the movie Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue.

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The courage and resilience of this engineer left an indelible mark in history. This inspiration testified to the strength of the human spirit and the determination to fight against the odds of life.

This op-ed reflects the common man’s traits to become a source of inspiration for many, based on readily available sources. 

Image: Mission Raniganj (Source: Poster)

The story of Jaswant Singh Gill (born in Punjab, India), an employee of Coal India Limited, led a rescue mission at Mahabir Colliery, Raniganj, West Bengal, India to save guard 65 miners who unfortunately got trapped in a flooded coal mine.

The incident happened on 13 November 1989. In the incident, 232 miners employed in a coal mine saw a flood of water in the mine. About 161 miners were able to rescue through two lifts, but 71 of them could not reach the lift due to some distance. Out of them, six went missing and 65 miners were able to reach the highest point in the mine.

‘Mission Raniganj’ showcase the bravery, intelligence and courage of this true hero of Gill, a senior engineer who innovated the idea of using a fabricated steel capsule about 7 feet high and 22 inch in diameter and the borehole was dug, where this capsule was lowered to bring one miner out each time. The capsule was 2.5 meters tall, made of steel that was attached with iron ropes and a crane was used to lower it into the pit.

This was a dangerous rescue mission, where the conditions were not in favour of rescuers. They were fighting against the time, as the carbon dioxide release was high, risk of flood and danger of roof collapse. These trapped miners had once lost the hope to be rescued. This was accomplished by one of the bravest rescue missions to overcome all the obstacles. The remarkable intelligence of Gill was reflected in the idea implying this capsule rescue and execution.

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Image: Akshay Kumar and Jaswant Singh Gill (Source: Screenshot)

The movie reflected that Akshay had to use his brilliance with the help of a surveyor to find the highest point of the mine and dig a borehole with the technical staff’s help to succeed in this challenging rescue mission. Akshay’s colleagues underestimated his vision and plans,  but this man from Punjab never lost hope and explained his plan to the seniors to begin the rescue. The capsule was made quickly, and two rescue personnel were called to execute the mission by entering the borehole.

The movie reflects that both turned down this operation to save their life. But it was none other than the protagonist who volunteered for the mission despite strong resistance from the senior officials. He entered the capsule and went into the mine. This presence of mind was also showcased in the manner in which he pacified the trapped 65 miners to use common sense to rescue all. The hammer signal was used to pull the capsule out of the borehole, and it is insightful to watch how Akshay used his intelligence not just to rescue the 65 miners but finally to execute this mission.  He was later known as a capsule man. This brave engineer taught the lesson of exceptional intelligence through his innovative problem-solving skills and earned admiration and respect in the eyes of the world. The individual’s resolute perseverance and remarkable bravery have served as a source of inspiration for several folks across. The individual’s resolute courage when confronted with challenges distinguishes him from others.

Image: Jaswant Singh Gill

Gill epitomizes the essence of bravery, as seen by his willingness to endanger his well-being to save others and his unwavering commitment to championing moral righteousness.

In 1991, President of India R. Venkataraman bestowed upon Gill the prestigious citizen bravery award known as the ‘Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak’. Subsequent to that, he has garnered several commendations, notably including a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed to him by Coal India.

Thus a common man became a source of inspiration to the world and has given inspiration to many others to show resilience and determination in odd times. 

Contributing Author: Dr Sakul Kundra is an Associate Dean (Research) and Assistant Professor at the College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University. The views expressed are his own and not of this newspaper or his employer. Email dr.sakulkundra@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The Australia Today is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts, or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Australia Today and The Australia Today News does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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