The owner of an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya has been arrested, said a police officer. The owner has been running the coal mine in which five miners have been trapped for four days. However, the rescue operation is on.
The owner, Shining Langstang, was arrested from Sutunga village near the mine in Meghalaya. The rat-hole mine at Umpleng about 20 km from Khlieriat, the district headquarters of East Jiantia Hills district was flooded after a dynamite explosion on Sunday.
A deep vertical shaft is dug till coal seams are found in the rat-hole mining. Once the seams are found, coal is taken out through small holes along the horizontal line of the coal seams.
"The Sordar (mine manager) is on the run and we are trying to arrest him. In this regard, a lookout notice has been issued and his posters have been put up throughout the district," Superintendent of Police Jagpal Singh Dhanoa said while quoted by PTI.
A statement issued by Meghalaya police on May 31 had said, "The main culprit as per eye-witnesses is 'Sordar' (manager) of the mine who did nothing to rescue the trapped labourers and chased the survivors away".
Based on the account of the survivors, an FIR was registered at Khliehriat (dstrict headquarters) police station, the SP had said.
The report further said that though joint operations by personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the fire service were on Thursday bolstered by a 24-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team, the divers could not make any headway due to the water level in the main vertical shaft, an official said.
At least five miners have been identified by the district administration – four from Assam and one from Tripura -who are stuck somewhere in the mine.
The SP said, six co-workers of the trapped persons who had a miraculous escape as they were outside the mine have been escorted to their homes in Assam.
However, the district administration has registered a case against the survivors as they were also allegedly involved in illegal mining, the SP said.
The survivors will not be arrested if they comply with police orders to appear as and when necessary, he said.
East Jaintia Hills district deputy commissioner E Kharkmalki said, "Today NDRF team has confirmed that water level is 150 feet in the main vertical shaft which is not conducive for rescue operations.
"As of now, more water pumps should be put into action to lower the water level. Additional water pumps will be used tomorrow," he said.
A magistrate posted at the accident site said none of the trapped miners could be located as the water level is too high for rescue divers to enter the mine, the report said.