Father gives up hope on seeing his son alive

Victims’ kin spend sleepless nights in Assam village

From Saurav Borah

GUWAHATI: Fifty-six year old Abdul Miyan and his family at Bhangnamari village (Panbari area) in Chirang district of Assam have spent 11 sleepless nights till Monday and skipped many a meal in between.

While there is no hope left for a member, Shaher Islam, to be recovered alive from the flooded rat hole mine in East Jaintia Hills, the family has a prayer before both the Assam and the Meghalaya governments.

“I have lost hope for my son. He (Shaher) and the others trapped in the mine cannot be alive for this long. But our since prayer before the government is that at least the bodies should be traced and handed over to the kin,” Miyan told The Shillong Times on Monday evening.

Shaher, 28, and two others from the same village, Amir Hussain, 28, and Monirul Islam, 24, were trapped, along with at least 11 others, in the mishap that occurred on the morning of December 13.

Another youth from the same village, Sayeb Ali, 21, is believed to be the lone survivor after he managed to get out of the flooded mine shaft just in the nick of time.

“His wife, Shajeda Khatun, 23, has not been able to eat properly. She has been crying most of the time. His mother’s condition too is the same. Shaher was breadwinner and the family depended on the money he earned in Meghalaya. He has three minor children and their future is uncertain now. I have even told Shajeda to look for work although it would be difficult,” Miyan, a farmer, said.

All these years, the father had little clue about the kind of work that his son was engaged in.

“Shaher had always told me that he was engaged in some ‘digging work in ‘Shillong’, but never told me that he was actually going down that deep to extract coal. I would have stopped him and told him to stay in Panbari and earn whatever he could, even it was meagre,” an emotional Miyan said, breaking down at times, in between.

The Meghalaya government has announced Rs 1lakh to the kin of the trapped miners. “The money hardly matters now. We have lost our son. The damage is irreparable ,” Miyan added.

The condition in the other two homes of the village, that once had Amir Hussain, and Monirul Islam as residents, is the same. Amir was married while Monirul was a bachelor.

“I have stopped going to their houses since I returned home. The pain they are going through is unbearable. Amir too has minor children,” Sayeb said.

As for Sayeb, he has been without work for the past 12 days now. “I am contemplating going to Chennai or Kerala now to work in companies. But they are offering just Rs 300 per day which is nothing compared to what I earned there (Meghalaya),” he said.

Sayeb used to earn up to Rs 2000 a day for a seven-hour shift in the rat hole mine in Jaintia Hills.

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