The trailer of Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue, starring Akshay Kumar is out. The biopic is based on the life of a real hero, Jaswant Singh Gill.
While working as a chief mining engineer, Gill saved the lives of 65 people when a coal mine in Raniganj, West Bengal, was flooded.
The Mahabir colliery of Eastern Coalfield Limited was flooded on 13 November, 1989. The incident occurred when someone touched the upper seam of the mine accidentally and water gushed in.
Of the 220 miners working at the site, six lost their lives immediately. Those closest to the lift were quickly pulled out, but 65 miners remained trapped inside.
Four teams were formed for the rescue operations. The team led by Gill came up with the idea of making a steel capsule that could carry one person at a time. The capsule was to be sent through the borewell hole.
The authorities had to drill multiple bore wells to communicate with the miners and send them food and drinking water.
Gill drew plans for the 2.5 m capsule and sent them to a fabrication factory nearby. The capsule was ready by midnight of 15 November, with a steel rope to be lowered into the bore.
Despite protests from senior officials, Gill, trained in rescue procedures, went down for the rescue himself. He said he entered the capsule at 2:30 am on 16 November, 1989.
He stayed down until every single miner was pulled out, and came out only at the end of the six-hour ordeal.
As he finally stepped out of the capsule, he was greeted with applause. Two years later, he was awarded the ‘Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak’ by then-president Ramaswamy Venkataraman.
“You only get one life, you need to make it count…Everything happened so suddenly that no one had the time to think,” Gill told SBS Punjabi.
Gill passed away on 26 November, 2019. However, with the upcoming movie Mission Raniganj — set to release on 6 October — we can revisit the heroic rescue carried out by this braveheart engineer.