Judicial custody for owner of Meghalaya coal mine where 5 workers are trapped

Dynamite blast in pit on May 30 had left workers trapped

The owner of a coal mine in Meghalaya where five labourers are trapped since May 30 was sent to judicial custody a day after he surrendered on June 2, State Home Minister Lakhmen Rymbui has said.

The five miners, feared dead, were trapped following a dynamite blast in the pit about 500 ft deep. The mine, one of a few thousand in the State’s East Jaintia Hills district, was known to have been abandoned.

Four of the trapped miners are from Assam and one from Tripura.

The district police had, a day after the mishap, detained K. Chyrmang, the former owner of the mine. But he tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined.

“The current owner of the mine, Shining Langstang, surrendered on Wednesday night. He is a resident of Sutnga Pohshnong village and was presented before a local court on Thursday for judicial remand,” Mr. Rymbui said, adding that five people have so far been questioned and their statements recorded.

District Superintendent of Police Jagpal Singh Dhanoa said a lookout notice has been issued for the sordar (contractor of labourers) of the mine, identified as Nizamuddin Ali, who is absconding.

“A case has been registered against six people who had worked with the trapped miners and survived the accident, for taking part in illegal mining activities. They have been escorted to their homes in Assam with instructions to appear as and when called for,” Mr. Dhanoa said.

District officials said continuous rain has hampered the rescue efforts and it would be “extremely difficult” to pull out the miners, dead or alive.

The authorities have requisitioned a few pumps to draw out the accumulated water in the pit and a crane for the rescue team to descend.

The State Disaster Response Force team on Thursday managed to go down the pit and measured the water level to be about 152 ft.

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