Terming it a question of '"life and death", the Supreme Court of India came down heavily on the government on Thursday, ordering it to bring out the trapped miners in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya "either dead or alive."
While hearing a corresponding petition, the apex court expressed its dissatisfaction with the rescue effort to save the 15 miners who have been trapped for 22 days in illegal mines situated in the East Jaintia Hills.
"We pray to God that all are alive. Every minute counts and they should be brought out. No matter whether they are all dead, not dead or all alive, they should be taken out," the court said while hearing a petition which sought to scale up the rescue operation.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to beef up the rescue operation.
"We have lost all hope to see him alive again. I just wish they retrieve the bodies of my sons so that we can solemnly perform their last rites and pray for them," Krishna Limbu, a relative of one of the trapped miners, told media on Wednesday before approaching the court.
Authorities have been struggling to pump out water from the 380-foot (115-metre) deep mine so that divers can approach the exact spot where the men are believed to be trapped. Navy divers entered the mine on Sunday but failed in their quest to locate any of the miners.