Punjab: 2-year-old Fatehveer dies after 109-hour rescue effort, Opposition blames state government's delay

On admission, Fateh had no pulse, no respiration and no cardiac activity - PGI Chandigarh

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Punjab: 2-year-old Fatehveer dies after 109-hour rescue effort, Opposition blames state government's delay


A two-year-old boy who had fallen into an unused borewell in a field at Bhagwanpura village in Punjab's Sangrur district five days ago, was rescued at 5:12am today morning, has been declared dead.

Stuck in an over 120-foot deep borewell for 109 hours, a two-year-old toddler was declared dead after being rescued Tuesday morning in Sangrur district. With his hands clamped with a rope, Fatehveer Singh was brought out after the operation to rescue him through a parallel tunnel dug up closeby failed.A team of doctors was stationed at the incident site to provide medical assistance to Singh as soon as he was pulled out. An ambulance equipped with a ventilator was also stationed there. The kid was rushed to Chandigarh but he was declared brought dead by the doctors. .

Fatehveer Singh was rescued at 5:12 am on Tuesday by the NDRF and local volunteers. He was rushed to PGIMER in Chandigarh in an ambulance amid police security. PGIMER official, Dr Uttam Thakur said that postmortem of the body carried out and then the body handed over to the family.The state had a chopper on standby near the site, but the child was taken to a hospital about 140 km from the village by road as chopper couldn't fly before 5:40 am said by Deputy Commissioner Sangrur Ghanshyam Thori.

As per information given by PGI Chandigarh, Fatehveer Singh was brought to pediatric emergency ward, Advanced Pediatric Centre, PGIMER at 7.24 AM with alleged history of fall into a borewell on 6.6.2019 in the evening. On admission, he had  no pulse, no respiration and no cardiac activity, hence the child was declared brought dead. The  Police moved a request for the postmortem examination and submitted inquest papers in the Department of Forensic Medicine, PGI. A panel of doctors Dr Y S Bansal Prof & Head and Dr Senthil Kumar Assistant Prof  conducted  the autopsy and the examination was concluded at 11.15 AM. Postmortem  findings are suggestive of death occurred few days back. The detailed postmortem  report is being prepared and would be handed over to the Investigating Officer. The mortal remains of the child were handed over to the police and the relatives.  

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team, which conducted the rescue operation, had initially thought of using a rope to pull Fatehveer out but went against it suspecting injuries to the child. However, on June 6, a rope was then suspended in the borewell which had even gripped the hands of the child, but he could not be pulled out. Deputy Commissioner Sangrur Ghanshyam Thori said, “This method was followed on day one, but the team could not succeed and it was tried almost every day, but as the child couldn’t be retrieved via clamping, they were following another method of creating a parallel borewell and reaching the borewell via a tunnel.”

“We tried to clamp the child soon after the accident. The first hand was clamped in 2.5 hours while second hand in 10 hours after the accident. However, we never wanted to use force to pull him up and hence NDRF started digging a parallel tunnel. In all, clamping was tried 116 times. We tried it on Tuesday morning as well and it worked and the child was pulled out,” said Thori.

On Saturday morning, officials, who were monitoring the boy’s condition through camera, had said some movements of the child were noticed. Thori, who is supervising the rescue operation, described it as the “rarest of the rare”, and said it was quite challenging as there were a lot of technicalities involved. To retrieve the boy, a parallel borewell has been dug by installing reinforced cement concrete (RCC) pipes of nearly 36 inches in diameter. However, as rescuers were close to reaching the child, they were facing some technical issues.

A high-level rescue team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) assisted by police, civil authorities, villagers and volunteers were pressed into service to rescue the child, late on Thursday.A parallel shaft was dug with the help of concrete pipes to reach out to Fatehveer, but the rescuers kept facing technical issues during the operation which kept them from reaching out to the toddler.Whilst oxygen was being pumped into the narrow pit, no food or water could be provided to the child, who reportedly fell unconscious during the time, the officials said.A camera was also installed to monitor the condition of the child who was tied to a rope.

Angry at the alleged delay in rescuing the child, the villagers who were awaiting a miracle,  gathered around the incident site and raised slogans against the Punjab government.As a result, heavy police was deployed to prevent any untoward incident.  Angry locals protested against the district administration and the Punjab government over the delay in rescuing the child. The locals even blocked the Sunam-Mansa road.  

The toddler was playing in a field near his house when he accidentally fell into the borewell which was covered with a jute bag, on Thursday evening. Officials said, his mother instantly tried to pull him out, but failed to retrieve the child.The borewell was dug by Fatehveer’s family in 1984. They used to draw water from it to irrigate the fields. It was last used in 1991.

In a tweet on Monday, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh assured that he was constantly monitoring the situation.Meanwhile, Captain Amarinder Singh has expressed grief over the incident. He has now sought reports from all district collectors regarding open borewell in the state so that such terrible accidents can be prevented in the future.





However, Mr Singh’s assurance was not enough to pacify former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal who held the chief minister responsible for ‘endangering’ the life of the toddler.



However, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema alleged that the state government failed to ensure safe recovery of the child. “The rescue operation is being run with traditional methods by locals. Captain Amarinder Singh’s government has failed. Though local Congress leaders had arrived, the minister concerned and technical experts are missing,” he alleged.

The incident has brought to the fore the safety concerns around abandoned and uncovered borewells, which have repeatedly compromised many lives in the past.

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