At least six labourers from Assam were killed in a coal mining-related accident in East Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya even as Home minister Lahkmen Rymbui said that the law would take action against those engaging in illegal coal mining activities.
The mishap took place at a mining place in Sorkari near Deinshalu and Rymbui village on Thursday afternoon. Two years ago, 15 miners were also trapped to death at an illegal coal mine at Khloo Ryngksan in the same district.
Five of the six deceased persons have been identified as Jilal Uddin (25) from Jalabad Karimganj, three brothers – Dilwar Hussain (35), Ali Hussain (40) and Mokbul Hussain – from Karimganj and Abdul Sabul (32) from Laborputa, Silchar, Cachar district.
A criminal case has already been registered under Khliehriat police station and investigation is on to nab the mine owner and the manager of the mine, who have been absconding since the time of the incident.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Rymbui said that police are trying to ascertain the cause of the tragedy that led to the death of the six labourers.
“Prima facie it seems that the accident was after the crane which was used in mining activity got some defect and collapsed but I am yet to get the exact report,” he said.
“Police have already registered a case and investigation will be done. After proper investigation, we will see what needs to be done,” he added.
Admitting that it is the duty of the state government to prevent illegal mining, Rymbui said, “If at all there is illegal mining, it should be closed down immediately in order to also prevent losses of precious lives.”
“After ascertaining the reasons or the causes that led to the incident then only we can come to a conclusion. Accidents can happen anywhere anytime but if at all there is illegal mining, the law will surely take its own course of action,” he further asserted.
The Home minister also congratulated the district administration and police for their efforts to closely monitor due to which, according to him, “Illegal mining in the state has come down drastically”.
On the other hand, Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills District, E Kharmalki said that whether the labourers were being engaged in coal mining or stone quarrying, that is yet to be ascertained since “no coal was found in the hole they were digging.”
He said that the employer is yet to be identified but a case against him has already been registered by the police and action will be taken as per law.
The DC also informed that so far, five of the six deceased persons have been identified and their respective family members have been informed for claiming the bodies.
According to him, the bodies are being taken to the hospital for post mortem examination.
Meanwhile, Assistant Inspector General of Police (A) Gabriel K Iangrai informed that on reaching the place of incident, 6 cadavers were seen next to the mining area.
He said prima facie it seems that a machine at the mining area had malfunctioned, which may have unfortunately led to the untimely demise of the 6 persons.
“A criminal case has already been registered under Khliehriat Police Station, and investigation of the case is in progress to establish the whereabouts of the mine owner and the manager of the mine, who have been absconding since the time of the incident,” Iangrai said.
The AIGP also informed that the District Disaster Management Office (DDMO) along with officials of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) had observed all formalities at the mining area and it was ascertained that there were no further fatalities inside the mine except for the aforementioned casualties.
The next of kin of the 5 persons are being contacted by the officials, and necessary measures have been initiated to establish the identity of the unknown deceased person, he added.