Home has a change of guard

Home is the only safe sanctuary for humans. It affords them shelter them from all dangers and from the elements. If the home becomes an unsafe space there will be chaos. The inmates will suffer insecurity and despair. It is not without reason that the government department in charge of law and order is also called the Home Department and the person in charge is designated as the Home Minister. Meghalaya has been passing through turmoil since 2018 when reports on ‘alleged’ illegal mining took the shape of reality after the Ksan mining tragedy in December 2018. After the 15 miners were trapped inside the Ksan mine at Jaintia Hills and one person escaped to tell his story to the world, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) Government did not even have a fig leaf to hide behind. Mining was well and truly happening despite the ban by the National Green Tribunal in April 2014 and the Ksan mining tragedy had proved it beyond a reasonable doubt. But the Home Minister of the state kept mum on all this. There was neither denial nor acceptance. In fact, the Home Minister hardly speaks. When journalists wanted to question him on certain issues he adopted a belligerent posture. Meghalaya was being robbed of revenue because the doors to its home were left unguarded by those that were supposed to be its custodians.

Despite this harsh reality of uninterrupted illegal coal mining, Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma chose to be on denial mode. He never visited the Ksan mine even out of human sympathy and to pay respects to the miners trapped inside the fatal rat hole that claimed their young lives. Perhaps the Chief Minister felt that visiting the tragic site would buttress his opponents’ allegations that illegal coal mining was continuing and that the mined coal was regularly transported by manipulating the system and by using the administration and the police to facilitate the illegal trade. When something illegal is allowed to carry on under the very eyes of the administration, then someone somewhere is gaining from this illegal transaction. This has come to light especially after the Lokayukta took notice of a complaint from certain quarters. As expected the Lokayukta asked for an independent enquiry and wanted the officers involved to be transferred out so that there is no tampering of evidence. The Government took a defensive stance on this issue too.

Only after the coalition partners, namely the UDP, PDF and BJP dug in their heels was the Chief Minister forced to take the Home Department from the earlier incumbent and share it between the UDP and BJP. Hopefully Meghalaya will be better guarded now!

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