Six dead in coal mining area in Meghalaya

At least six workers were killed in a mishap at a coal mining area at Sorkari near Dienshlalu village in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district on January 21, police said on January 22.

Meghalaya government has directed deputy commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district, E Kharmlaki to submit a report on the mishap and to file an FIR against whoever is involved.

Official sources said that the mishap occurred between 12 noon to 1 pm on January 21 and the district police received the information about the incident at around 5.30 pm.

Out of the six deceased, five have been identified as Md Dilwar Hussain (35), Md Maqbool Hussain (45), Ali Hussain (40), Md Jilalaluddin (25) all from Karimganj district of Assam and Md Abdul Chobur (30) from Silchar in Cachar district of Assam. The identity of the sixth victim was being ascertained.

Official sources said the “manager of that area,” one Salim, who was supervising the work, was absconding since the time of the incident and investigation of the case is in progress to establish the whereabouts of the mine owner. Salim is also believed to be from Assam.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that the mishap occurred after the crane they were working on slipped and fell into a 100+ feet pit due to a mechanical failure leading to the deaths,” superintendent of police, East Jaintia Hills district, Deepak Kumar Palecha told the media.

He said the bodies of the victims were brought to the community health centre at Khliehriat and post-mortem was conducted.

Asked if there was any mining activity at the coal mining area, Palecha said only “dug soil” was found at the site of the mishap and “no trace of coal” was found.

“We cannot say if they were working on an abandoned coal mine or digging a new coal mine pit. We only found traces of soil and not coal, but we are investigating the matter,” the police official said.

Coal mining is banned in Meghalaya since April 2014 by a National Green Tribunal order. The green court banned rat home mining ironically to avert such mishaps in the unregulated and dangerous mines.

Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui said police are looking into the incident and necessary inquiry is being done.

“It is the duty of the government to prevent illegal thing but this type of thing it opens our eyes that we need to monitor more so that to prevent illegal mining,” he said when reporters posed a query if illegal mining was being carried out in the area.

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