Haldari (Kurukshetra), July 24: It was a game with a mouse that had led six-year-old Prince to the booby trap: three empty gunny bags covering ' and therefore concealing ' a pit just one foot wide but 60 feet deep.
Boys in this village like to tie strings to mice’s tails, release them and try to catch them again. It was around 5.50 on Friday evening when the mouse Prince was chasing scampered straight into one of the gunny bags and came out on the other side.
As he ran after it, the boy stepped on just the part where the bags were covering the mouth of the borewell.
The pit was hurriedly filled up last night under orders from deputy commissioner T.K. Sharma after Prince had been rescued by the army, ending his 50-hour ordeal in a dark, cramped, suffocating black hole.
Villagers said the gunny bags had been filled with sand when they were originally placed over the borewell, abandoned by the district administration after the diggers failed to find water even at 60 feet. But the rains ruptured the bags, emptying their contents into the pit.
“Only a little sand was left in the top bag. They couldn’t withstand even Baba’s (Prince’s) small weight,” said land-owner Amarjit Singh Kalra.
Asked why only gunny bags had been used to cover the pit, the deputy commissioner said the administration did not want the pit closed permanently because it planned to bore deeper in the future.
Why did he have it filled last night then' Sharma had no answer.
Villagers complained that the district administration was slow to respond to the emergency. “The deputy commissioner walked in at 11 pm,” said Rajesh Satyawadi, who had rushed in from nearby Shahabad.
“Around 10.30 on Saturday morning, we approached the army recruitment centre at Ambala. By noon they were here.”
Thirty-two villagers helped the army dig the tunnel from the bottom of a nearby, 50-foot-deep dry well to the foot of the pit where Prince was trapped.
“It was too hot inside the dry well. While digging, we, too, like Prince had to take doses of oxygen. It’s amazing how he survived that heat,” said Lakhwinder Singh.