A rescuer in mine disaster in 1989 S. Jaswant Singh Gill, who was earlier declared the "BEST ALL INDIA RESCUE CAPTAIN" is the ONLY living recipient of coveted Sarvotam Jeevan Raksha Padak, one of the highest civilian gallantry awards, which has always been given posthumously, for his extra ordinary feat of saving 65 lives, a record number. He was honoured with the award in 1991 by President R. Venktaraghvan with four others who received it posthumously for conspicuous courage under circumstances of danger of grave bodily injury to the rescuer.On the night of Nov. 13, 1989 during a time blast at the Mahabir Colliery, Burdwan in West Bengal when 71 miners got entrapped in a mine and all entry and exit points had got blocked. Mr. Gill, risking his own life, went inside and miraculously saved 65 miners out of 71 miraculously, when some of the officials felt the situation was hopeless and it was a waste to try and launch a rescue operation. His seniors had asked him not to go inside since he was a senior officer. But for him the lives of his team members were more important.
A grdaduate from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, in mining he retired as Engineer-in-Chief, Coal India Ltd. from Dhanbad and settled in Amritsar, Mr. Gill without caring for his own life, when he came down in the mine at 2.30 a.m., on the night of 15-16 November, 1989, it was total pandemonium and complete chaos. It took 20 minutes per person to reach the top and total operation ran for about 30 hours. When he came out there was gathering of about a lac including media persons and kith and kins of the victims. The Chief Secretary and other top ministers of West Bengal, picked him up. The Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu also felicitated him for his daring feat, which was the outcome of a single man Brigade – Jaswant Singh Gill. Had he not shown dauntless courage and prowess, all the 71 miners would have died. It was for the first time in the history of mine explosions that a hole was bored and the miners were rescued. Mr. Gill felt that it was the grace of his Gurus behind all this accomplishment. Still at the age of 74, he is activaly involved in social work. In 2008, he was selected as member of the Disaster Management Committee, Amritsar. On Nov. 29, 2009, he was given India's first 'Lifetime Achievement Award for Mining' at New Delhi by ISMAA.
This rescue is unparalleled in the history of mining the world over and therefore qualifies as a World Record. It must also go the credit of Er. J.S. Gill that a much simpler rescue operation in Chile saved 33 miners using the same capsule The Mighty Sikhs / 151 method but it took them 120 days to bring out the miners with the assistance of NASA.On Ist November 2013 he was honoured with Lifetime Acheivement Award and Rs. One lakh by Union Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal on the occasion of celebrations of 39th Foundation Day of Coal India Ltd. His name has been included in the Limca Book of Records in 2005 edition as national record holder for the most successful & largest rescue operation in mining history. The other awards are Swami Vivekanand Award of Excellence (2013), Vijay Rath National Award from IICM, Ranchi, Excellence in Safety Award from Coal India Ltd, at Calcutta and in memory of that event a bulletin was also released; Bhagat Puran Singh award from Guru Arjun Dev Mandal Patiala; Outstanding Services to Humanity Award (24-12-2014) from Harman Educational & Social Welfare Society, Amritsar and Farishta-E-Kaum award from Sache Patshah Magazine, New Delhi.Download Ebook to Read Continue