When the state violates human rights
It is futile to speak of rescuing the miners trapped inside the mine at Krem Ule in Umpleng, Sutnga Elaka, East Jaintia Hills. A more appropriate but harsh word would have been ‘to bring out their mortal remains,” for they are long dead. Common sense tells us that no human can survive for a week inside a flooded mine. When we have a State Human Rights body and a High Court in Meghalaya why is no suo-moto action not forthcoming in this matter? Left to the State Government it is unlikely that the mine owner and mine manager who are arrested will be in jail for too long. This is a pattern that has emerged in Meghalaya. Offender are rarely if ever punished because that would require an air-tight case, with conclusive evidence managed by a professional team of investigators and not by half-baked sleuths who are cautioned to go slow with investigation until everything fades from public memory and the arrested person is quietly released. It is not without reason that the police are unable to discharge their duties and charge-sheet a criminal until the case reaches conviction stage. But, it is because their hands are tied and because a fool-proof investigation might find that the tentacles reach those in the corridors of power. And that is not what the Government of the day wants. Otherwise with three mining tragedies in the 3.5 year tenure of the MDA Government, it is unprecedented that no one is arrested for illegal mining, and illegal transportation of coal.
Nothing can be worse for a state when law enforcers become active facilitators of illegal coal mining and transportation. There may be a few conscientious policemen that stop the trucks and file cases against the drivers and owners of the coal. But those are rare cases. Anyone who takes a stroll on the Shillong by-pass will witness the monetary transaction between the policeman on duty and the truck drivers. It is demoralizing to witness this scene but it’s a glaring fact that has been exposed by truck drivers who have secretly recorded videos of such transactions. Will the High Court of Meghalaya and the State Human Rights Commission step forward to deliver justice to the miners and their families? Or will the family members of the miners be left looking for some measly one-time compensation after having lost a bread winner for the family. Human life has a cost but it is unfortunate that the lives of the poor don’t seem to matter. The poor neither enjoy the right to life, nor do they have access to justice which always evades them.