The Meghalaya Police have arrested the owner of an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district, where 13 miners were trapped on Thursday due to flooding. The police arrested Jrin Chullet, aka Krip Chullet, on Friday night after a raid on his home in Narwan village, the Hindustan Times reported.
But Meghalaya Deputy Inspector General of Police (Eastern Range) AR Mawthoh said Chullet’s accomplice, James Sukhlain, is absconding. The police have launched a search operation to find him. A case has been registered against Chullet at the Saipung police station.
In 2014, the National Green Tribunal had banned unscientific and unsafe rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya. On Saturday, it sought a report from the Meghalaya government on the mishap.
“The incident involving illegal coal mining is very tragic,” BP Katoki, a retired judge heading a National Green Tribunal-appointed panel said according to The Hindu. “I have sought a report from the district’s deputy commissioner and superintendent of police on all aspects of the accident. This will form part of the interim report to be submitted to the NGT by this month.”
The panel was formed on August 31 to handle matters related to the protection of the environment and of miners from illegal mining. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Friday admitted that illegal mining was being carried out in the state despite a ban.
The labourers have been identified as Omor Ali, Mezamur Islam, Mominul Islam, Shirapat Ali, Mozid Sk, Raziul Islam, Amir Hussain, Munirul Islam, Saiar Islam, Samsul Haque, Chal Dkhar, Iong Dkhar, and Nilam Dkhar. The search operation, which had been called off on Friday night due to lack of light, resumed on Saturday. The Hindu quoted unidentified police officials as saying that the trapped miners had a slim chance of being rescued.
The rescuers found three helmets inside the water-filled mine on Saturday, The Telegraph reported quoting sources.