The operation to pull out a six-year old boy trapped in an abandoned borewell at a farm in nearby Sulikeri village was halted on the sixth day on Friday as his mother led a protest by villagers seeking an end to it.
Distraught Sangavva Hatti, mother of the boy Thimmanna Hatti who fell into his father's farm on Sunday, said the rescue work should be stopped as their family believed the boy had not survived and continuing the massive operation would only damage their land.
As Sangavva and the villagers staged a protest in the evening after the operation went on during the day, Bagalkot Deputy Commissioner PA Meghannanavar announced that it had been stopped "temporarily".
The massive operation involved 32 rescuers and a huge number of labourers, excavators and tippers to rescue the boy reported to be stuck at a depth of about 160 feet in the 300 feet borewell and is seen on camera covered mostly with mud.
The boy's father Hanumantha Hatti, earlier in the day, gave a letter in writing to the Deputy Commissioner requesting that the operation be stopped and he would be responsible if there were any legal repercussion as a result of such action.
District in charge Minister SR Patil has convened a meeting of all parties on Saturday to decide on the next course of action in the light of the request by the boy's parents to stop the operation. Bagalkot District Health Officer BD Kittura had said on Thursday that considering the foul smell emanating from the borewell, it appears that he might not be alive.
Teams from National Disaster Relief Force, fire brigade and Hutti gold mines in neighbouring Raichur district are involved in the operation, for which two robot experts were also used but all to no avail till today.
Facing a tragic dilemma, the boy's father Hanumantha Hatti had pleaded on Tuesday itself that the operation be stopped to save his land, saying "I won't get back my son alive after all this that is being done."