The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Miracle over, boy cries ‘amma’
- Prince fall in unprotected well

Haldari (Kurukshetra), July 23: “Amma”, six-year-old Prince cried as his tired and bewildered eyes spotted his mother.

“I cannot believe Baba is back and safe. It’s a rebirth. The prayers of the country have been answered,” said Paramjit as the army rushed Prince to a gurdwara where doctors were waiting.

It was on his sixth birthday that Prince was “reborn” after spending 50 hours in a 60-foot pit into which he had fallen on Friday evening while playing with his sister Payal.

Cheers of “Indian army zindabad” and “Bole so Nihal” rent the evening air in this Haryana village as Prince appeared bundled in white cloth in the arms of a soldier in a drum pulled by a crane.

A doctor, who had been monitoring Prince while the boy was stuck in the hole bored for a well, said: “Despite his tender age, he was understanding what was happening. He was following each and every instruction that we are sending down to him.”

It must have been a brave boy who survived 50 hours alone in a claustrophobic hole, about 16 inches in diameter. But his bravery might have taken a knock as he emerged from the trauma into the wide world teeming with noisy people falling over each other to touch him or pat him when what he needed first was the reassuring presence of his parents.

Colonel S.K. Vidyarthi, who supervised the rescue and carried the boy in his arms to the gurdwara, said: “There were problems. But we managed to come up trumps. We are happy that a tender life has been saved.”

The first televised rescue of a boy trapped in a hole grabbed the nation’s attention and, as Paramjit said, there were prayers on many lips. “The Prime Minister prays for the speedy rescue and good health of the young boy,” the Prime Minister’s Office had said earlier in the day.

Ramchander, Prince’s father, and Paramjit would also want that the flood of prayers does not swallow the question why a well, dug by the Haryana health department two months ago, had not been covered with something strong enough to stand up to the weight of a six-year-old.

The “miracle”, as the rescue is being called, might not have been possible had another well, gone dry, not existed eight feet away.

The 2 Signals Regiment at Ambala Cantonment, which was informed yesterday morning by the villagers, went down the dry well and dug some more to go down to the level of the bore well.

A tunnel ' of 3ft-diameter iron pipes ' to connect the two pits was dug slowly to make sure the earth around Prince did not cave in.

“It was very hot and the soil below had a lot of sand. We worked inch by inch to ensure that the earth around Prince did not cave in and suffocate him,” Vidyarthi said.

At 7.45 pm, it was from the mouth of the dry well that Prince emerged because the one he fell into after stepping on the sand bag used as covering was too narrow.

Payal told her mother that Prince had disappeared. “I went to the mouth of the bore well and shouted his name. Prince replied immediately and started crying.

“We called out to the other villagers, lowered a rope to pull him out. But Prince could not sustain his weight and fell again,” said his father.

Ramchander, a daily wage labourer, and his family find a small fortune waiting at the end of the tunnel.

Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has announced a Rs 2-lakh assistance and free treatment for Prince. An equal amount will come from the Centre.

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