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17 years on, no light at tunnel’s end for him 

Gurdaspur: About 17 years after he was named “Tunnel Man” for detecting a 400-ft-long tunnel originating in Pakistan and leading to his agricultural land, Swarna Dass (76) is still awaiting the benefits announced by then SAD-BJP government.While tilling his 3-acre land at his native village, Chauntra, near the fencing on March 5, 2001, Dass had spotted a big hole. This was the tunnel’s opening on the Indian side. He had also found digging implements.Dass had informed the BSF personnel manning the nearby border outpost (BoP). They had given him Rs 500 and asked him to keep his “discovery” a secret. However, news about the tunnel had spread quickly.The BSF had kept a watch on the passageway for the next few weeks, but did not witness any infiltration attempt.Then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced a state government job for one of Dass’ three sons. The BSF promised to renovate his ramshackle tenement and give a job to his eldest son.District administration officials promised to honour him on Independence Day in 2001. However, all promises remained unfulfilled.“Digging is done during daytime amid the roar of tractors on the Pakistani side to give an impression that farming activity is going on. I was promised the moon. The BSF told me that I had done a great job in national interest. But the authorities did not keep their word,” said Dass.He subsequently detected more passageways, but got nothing for passing on the information to the BSF.Two of his sons work as labourers, while the third helps him till the family land.“In a country where even clerks and peons of bureaucrats find a place on the honours list on I-Day, I have been forgotten by an ungrateful nation,” rues Dass.

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