Meet 12 rat-hole miners who rescued 41 trapped workers when modern equipment collapsed

News Network
November 29, 2023

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Naseem, Nasir, Firoz, Irshad, Munna, Monu, Wakeel, Rashid, Ankur, Saurabh, Devendra and Jatin. These 12 ‘rat-miners’ from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh had asked for 36 hours to dig their way to the 41 men stuck inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi since November 12. Ultimately, they did the job within 27 hours, leading to triumph for the human spirit in the long tunnel rescue operation.

But there were other heroes too. One was the six-inch pipe that reached the labourers on November 20, bringing them the much-needed communication line and solid food, which improved their morale and did not let the spirits down. The other key factor was that two of the stuck labourers, Gabbar Singh and Shaba Ahmed, took the leadership role inside the tunnel and motivated other workers and ensured that the team-spirit and morale remained high.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Singh and Ahmed during his 15-minute long phone-call to the 41 labourers last night and praised the duo for showing their leadership. “Some university should do a case-study on the leadership showed by you both village men. You motivated your fellow labourers,” the PM said. Singh and Ahmed told Modi how labourers kept themselves busy by hearing songs, doing Yoga and taking long walks inside the tunnel.

Prolonged effort

When the debris collapse in the Silkyara tunnel was reported at 5:30 am on November 12, the Centre had immediately swung into action. The Auger drilling machine was air-lifted to the site and drilling began to get to the labourers. Things were tough till November 20 as only a four-inch pipe was the bridge to the stuck labourers and they had to survive only on dry fruits. But on November 20, a six-inch pipe could reach the labourers in a breakthrough.

This proved to be a lifeline as a communication line could be then established by BSNL with the workers and a camera was sent to get videos of the workers. Solid food was also sent in along with medicines and phone chargers to keep the workers healthy and in high spirits. The workers could use the phone line to speak to the authorities, psychologists deputed at the tunnel as well as their families. This improved the morale of the stuck labourers, authorities said.

This softened the blow that was suffered in the rescue after the Auger machine broke down on November 17. The authorities went by expert advice and the 12 rat-hole miners were called in earlier this week from a Delhi-based firm to carry out manual digging at the site since Monday. The rat-miners had apparently asked for 36 hours to complete the job as two of them manually dug into the debris while the rest of the rat-miners took the debris out of the tunnel.

The rat-miners achieved the breakthrough within 27 hours, ahead of their own target, and finally a welded pipe was inserted last evening to pull the 41 workers out. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) men went in to the bring the workers out of the pipe and the entire process was completed within 45 minutes after the youngest worker came out at 7:50 pm. Ultimately, the ‘whole of government’ approach from the central and state in mission mode, and the rat-hole miners did wonders.

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News Network
February 24,2024

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Ahead of introducing an Uttarakhand-like bill on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the Assam government has decided to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act of 1935.

The State Cabinet, which met late on Friday night, approved the Assam Repealing Ordinance, 2024, for repealing the British-era marriage and divorce Act specific to Muslims.

Tourism Minister and government spokesperson, Jayanta Malla Baruah told journalists after the meeting that the decision to repeal the Act was made as the State is heading towards the UCC.

“The Chief Minister (Himanta Biswa Sarma) has been clear about the UCC. So, we took the very important decision to repeal Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935,” he said.

“Muslim marriages and divorces will no longer be registered under this Act. We want all marriages to be registered under the Special Marriage Act,” Mr. Baruah said, adding the Act was being misused for marriages of minors.

“We felt it was an obsolete pre-Independence Act that has lost its relevance today and we believe its repeal will be a big step against child marriage,” he said.

The minister said district commissioners and district registrars will be authorised to take custody of registration records currently in the custody of 94 Muslim marriage registrars on the repeal of the legislation under the overall supervision, guidance, and control of the State’s Inspector General of Registration.

“A one-time compensation of ₹2 lakh will be provided to each Muslim marriage registrar for their rehabilitation after the Act is repealed,” Mr. Baruah said.

Posting the Cabinet decisions on X, the Chief Minister said the provisions of the Muslim Marriages Act offer “scope for registering marriages of intended persons below 21 years (for males) and 18 years (for females) and there is hardly any monitoring for implementation of the Act”.

Among the other decisions made by the Cabinet was on protecting the land rights of the indigenous communities.

“For the protection of land rights of the indigenous communities, Ahom, Koch-Rajbongshi, and Gurkha communities are to be included in the list of protected classes of persons in the Balipara (north-central Assam) Tribal Belt who have been occupying the land prior to 2011,” the minutes of the meeting said.

“This will protect land rights of the indigenous communities who are bona fide Indian citizens,” it said.

The opposition Congress and the minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) criticised the State’s BJP-led government for targeting Muslims through the “unconstitutional step” of repealing the Act.

Congress MLA Abdur Rashid Mandal said the Cabinet nod for repealing the Act dealing with marriages and divorces of Muslims was a deliberate attempt to cater to Hindu sentiments at the expense of the Muslim community.

“The Assam government could not bring in any Bill on polygamy or the UCC. So, they have targeted this Act although the Cabinet does not have the right to repeal or amend a constitutional right,” AIUDF legislator Rafiqul Islam said.

“This is a policy to target Muslims ahead of the Lok Sabha elections,” he added.

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News Network
February 23,2024

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New Delhi: Google's AI tool Gemini's response to a question around Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in direct violation of IT rules as well as several provisions of the criminal code, minister of state for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Friday.

The minister took cognizance of the issue raised by verified account of a journalist alleging bias in Google Gemini in response to a question on Modi while it gave no clear answer when a similar question was tossed for Trump and Zelenskyy.

"These are direct violations of Rule 3(1)(b) of Intermediary Rules (IT rules) of the IT act and violations of several provisions of the Criminal code," Chandrasekhar said on social media platform X.

The minister marked the post to Google and the Ministry of Electronics and IT indicating further action in the matter.

According to a screenshot shared by a user on social media platform X, Gemini was asked whether PM Modi is a ‘fascist’, to which the platform responded that he has been “accused of implementing policies some experts have characterised as fascist,” which based on factors like the “BJP’s Hindu nationalist ideology, its crackdown on dissent, and its use of violence against religious minorities”.

However, as per the screenshot, when it was asked a similar question about former US President Donal Trump, Gemini responded with: “Elections are a complex topic with fast-changing information. To make sure you have the most accurate information, try Google Search.”

 Responding to the post, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “These are direct violations of Rule 3(1)(b) of Intermediary Rules (IT rules) of the IT Act and violations of several provisions of the Criminal code”. These rules pertain to basic due diligence that is required of intermediaries like Google to enjoy immunity from third-party content.

A senior IT Ministry official said that this was the second time that Google’s AI system presented “answers replete with biases”. “We are issuing a show cause notice to them, seeking information on why Gemini is generating such problematic views on certain individuals. If we do not find their answers satisfactory, they will stand to be prosecuted,” the official added, requesting anonymity.

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News Network
February 19,2024

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New Delhi, Feb 19: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will once again skip the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) summons, marking the sixth time he has failed to appear for questioning in connection with the Delhi excise policy case. The AAP has reiterated its stance, declaring the summons as "illegal" and asserting that the matter is now before the court.

In a statement released today, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emphasised that the ED had approached the court itself. The party suggested that instead of repeatedly issuing summonses, the ED should await the court's decision on the validity of the matter.

The ongoing legal battle between Mr Kejriwal and the ED has escalated, with the probe agency persistently summoning the Delhi Chief Minister, who has consistently refused to comply. The sixth summons comes in the wake of a Delhi court's directive to Arvind Kejriwal to appear and explain his non-compliance with the previous summons.

Mr Kejriwal's refusal to appear before the ED raises the possibility of him becoming the first sitting chief minister to face arrest.

The ED, investigating money laundering charges, has been probing allegations related to the Delhi liquor excise policy. The case revolves around accusations that the AAP government's revamped alcohol sales policy allowed it to receive kickbacks from cartels, allegedly funneled into funding election expenses in various states, including Goa.

While Mr Kejriwal has not been named as an accused in the case, two senior AAP members, including ex-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, have faced arrests.

The AAP vehemently denies all charges, asserting that the BJP is manipulating investigative agencies to target the party.

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