A case was on Monday registered in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills police station on the basis of some eye-witnesses against an incident of illegal rat-hole coal mining which left five labourers feared trapped inside the mine after it collapsed due to a “sudden explosion of dynamite".
All six were residents of Assam. Those identified were Abdul Karim from Boko, Abdul Kalam from Barpeta and Shyamcharan Debbarma from Tripura. While, the identity of other two is yet to to ascertained and are said to be from Silchar.
The district police were able to identify the probable location of the incident at 6am on Monday, while acting on information received from Superintendent of Police, Silchar that about six mine workers being trapped in a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills on the night of May 30.
The delay in identification of the probable site was due to inclement weather, poor night light condition, and non- availability of any eye-witness account. Higher authorities were apprised of the matter and a search and rescue operation was launched in collaboration with district administration.
District Police chief Jagpal Singh Dhanoa said while the search and rescue operation was on under the supervision of Inspector General of Police (Law & Order), six persons came forward with eye witness account of the events that transpired on May 30 at 5pm on Monday.
“As per eye witnesses account due to the sudden explosion of dynamite, five persons got trapped in the sudden rush of water into the mine. Within no time the mine was inundated," he said.
The police further said that as per eye witnesses Sordar by name of Nizam Ali is the main accused as he did nothing to rescue the trapped labourers. Rather, Ali threatened the survivors with dire consequences and chased them away from the mining site. Based on their account, an FIR was registered at Khliehriat police station.
“The survivors are being looked after by police to ensure their security. The probe is underway and no stone is being left unturned to arrest the Sordar of the mine," Dhanoa said.
He further informed that a person, who was detained for questioning in the incident, has tested Covid-19 positive and was kept at an isolation centre at Khliehriat under strict security.
Coal mining is not permitted in the state due to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on the activity in Meghalaya since 2014. The NGT ban came after a petition by Assam’s All Dimasa Students Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee had complained that due to rat-hole mining in the Jaintia Hills, the water in the Kopili river had turned acidic.
In the rat-hole mining process, a deep vertical shaft is dug till coal seams are found. Once the seams are found, coal is taken out through small holes along the horizontal line of the coal seams. At least 17 miners were trapped in a coal mine in the Ksan area of East Jaintia Hills on 13 December 2018. While five of them managed to escape, rescue efforts for the remaining 10 had continued till 2 March 2019.
Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here.