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Exploitation of unemployed youth continues; 2 from Barak Valley among 5 missing in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya

Exploitation of the poor continues as the second mishap this year in the illegal Coal mines of Meghalaya claims lives. Yesterday, after an accident at a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya five workers went missing.

The incident came to light when a man tweeted about the same on Social Media. Immediately Assam Police responded to the tweet and Cachar SP, Vaibhav Chandrakant Nimbalkar reached out to his counterparts Jagpal Singh Dhanoa, SP East Jaintia Hills. In a statement issued by Dhanoa, it is mentioned, “Based on information received from Superintendent of Police, Silchar about 6 (six) mineworkers being trapped in a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills on the night of 30th May 2021 the district police were able to identify the probable location of the incident at 6:00 AM on 31, May 2021.”

The statement issued by SP EJ Hills adds, “The delay in identification of probable site was due to inclement weather, poor night light condition and non-availability of any eye witness account. Higher authorities were appraised about the probable incident and in collaboration with the District Administration search and rescue operation was launched. State Disaster Response Force also reached the probable location of incident thereafter.”

While the search and rescue operation was on under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police (Law & Order), six (6) persons came forward with eye witness account of the events that transpired on the 30th of May 2021 at 05:00PM today. “As per eye witness(es) account due to the sudden explosion of dynamite, 5(five) persons got trapped in the sudden rush of water into the mine. Within no time the mine was inundated,” adds the statement.

The main culprit as per eyewitnesses is Sordar by name of Nizam Ali who did nothing to rescue the trapped labourers. “Rather Nizam Ali threatened the survivors with dire consequences and chased them away from the mining site. Based on their account FIR is registered at Khliehriat Police Station Ade Khliehriat PS Case No. 35(05)2021 u/s 188/269/270/304A IPC R/w section 21(5) MMDR Act R/W section 51(b) Disaster Management Act,” stated the media statement.

“The survivors are being looked after by police to ensure their security. Further, investigation is on and no stone is being left unturned to arrest the Sardar of the mine. Till the filing of this report, one person has been detained for questioning. Unfortunately, he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is being kept under guard at Isolation Centre at Khliehriat,” stated Meghalaya Police in its statement.

The details of the missing persons as mentioned by the Meghalaya Police, Abdul Karim from Boko, Assam, Abdul Kalam from Barpeta. Assam, Shyamcharan Debbarma from Tripura,  Unidentified person from Silchar, Assam and Unidentified person from Silchar, Assam.

However, Barak Bulletin’s team found out that the two deceased are Anowarul Islam Barbhuiya (Sahar) son of Siraj Uddin, and a resident of Nazatpur village in Katigorah, Cachar. Another one is from Badarpur Bortol area – 34-year-old Sukur Ahmed, son of Mohliz Uddin Bortol, Badarpur.

The Sardar’s handler and recruiter is based out of Bortol, Badarpur. Speaking with Barak Bulletin, he said that Sardar Nizam has confirmed that both have died on the spot of the accident at the mine.

Family members of Anowarul Islam Barbhuiya said that the Sardar spoke with them in the morning and assured them monetary help. “The Sardar told us that if we keep quiet about the accident then he will pay us compensation, provided there is no case filed. We requested him for the body and he said that he will somehow arrange the same but since then we have not managed to establish contact with them,” added the brother of Anowarul Islam Barbhuiya.

Anowarul leaves behind his wife and two-year-old daughter. “Our financial condition is horrible and that is why he had to go to the mines looking for a job opportunity. Sardar’s handler reached out to our family members in Ladrymbai and that is how we got to know about the employment opportunity,” added the brother of the deceased.

There is a nexus that operates in Ladrymbai which recruits the poor from Cachar and Karimganj. “We tell them at the very beginning that this job is difficult and they have put their lives at risk. Since they don’t even get to eat, they agree to do it easily. Most of them get Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 a month. If they survive and keep on working, the pay increases,” said the handler.

Speaking with Barak Bulletin, SP Dhanoa said that it has been raining incessantly and that is why the search and rescue operation is taking time. “It all depends on the water level. We are pumping water continuously and trying our best,” SP Dhanoa added.

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