Narratives of Rescue Work

17 days of continuous rescue work; prayers for the departed souls on the 20th day; and after that, running around to different hospitals. In this whole rescue operation, the army, fire service, civil defense and other law enforcement agencies all played an important role, but the most crucial role was that of ordinary people. The locals, bus drivers, garment workers, masons, mechanics, students, professionals, political activists and people from all walks of life disregarded the incredible risks to their lives to carry out this rescue work, and they became a source of courage and reliance for the people of this country. The rescuers did everything in their power to rescue those trapped inside. However, in this chapter we highlight the experiences of those rescue workers who did not receive a certificate or medal in recognition of their work, but who received people’s love and trust in return, who were lauded for their incredible strength and courage. Some of these unsung heroes, who worked round the clock, have written about their experiences in this chapter; xxx some documented their lived reality in their Facebook or diaries, which we later collected for the purpose of this archive.There are a total of 10 narratives here.

In each of their lives, Rana Plaza came as a big shock, a tremendous change to the way they perceived life. This shock not only brought to the fore of their consciousness how incredibly cruel the lives of working class people are, but also made them aware of the mutual responsibilities we each have. During that time, they were compelled to sort through and pull out corpses that were molten and rotten, and rescue the injured, if needed, by cutting off their hands and legs. Working desperately, they had rescued living beings or corpses through every hole they could find, sometimes by breaking the walls.

Each moment, there were people waiting for the living, but also for the dead, so that not even one dead person would remain trapped in the building. Those memories are unbelievable. When they remember those times, they too shiver in fear, in agitation, like the workers trapped inside. And every time, they wonder: is there an end to this cruelty?