Five migrant coal mine workers in a remote coal mining area Darangdura of Nangalbibra in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills district were shot dead by suspected militants of United Achik Liberation Army (UALA), a breakaway faction of the militant outfit Achik National Volunteer Council (B), on Monday.

South Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Chinmay P. Gotmare told The Hindu that all the five slain coal mine workers hailed from lower Assam’s Goalpara district. He said that the suspected UALA militants called out the workers from their labour camps and sprayed bullets from their weapons killing five of them on the spot. The victims were identified as Hobibul Ali, Anwar Ali, Mokidur Islam, Rizabul Ali and Motaliff.

The DC said that the killing occurred just after about half an hour after he had put his signature on an order banning coal mining activities in the entire district under Section 133 of Cr.PC to prevent coal mine collapse or caving in of mines. Mr. Gotmare said that he was apprehensive that due to incessant rain in the district for past few days coal mines might collapse and result in loss of human lives and therefore issued the order.

Ransom note

“According to our information the coal mine owner Amitabh Sangma received some ransom note from some people claiming themselves to be militants of UALA. The militants went to the coal mine around noon yesterday (Monday) and asked the workers to stop their mining activities. The workers obliged immediately out of fear for their lives. Around 4 p.m. the militants went to the mining area and called out the mine workers from their camps and fired upon them indiscriminately killing five of them on the spot,” he added.

The police team from Nangalbibra could reach the spot late in the night after walking for about 10 km as the coal mine is located in a remote place. Mr. Gotmare said that it was suspected that the UALA had killed the mining workers in a bid to create terror and extort money from businessmen, mine owners and others.

In July 2012, about 15 coal mine workers were feared buried in a rat-hole coalmine in Rongsa Awe village Nangalbibra area of the district when water gushed in from an adjacent, flooded, abandoned mine when the workers accidentally punctured its wall. The DC said that the incident was still shrouded in a mystery as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams found no evidence of any survivor nor did locate body of miner after completely draining out the water from the mine.