SHILLONG, Nov 10: The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government is serious about getting to the root of the problem of illegal coal mining in Meghalaya, according to the state’s Home Minister, James K Sangma.
“I can assure you that we are seriously looking into this matter. Whether in term of judicial probe or a magisterial inquiry that is the only thing that remains (to be decided) but we are serious about getting into the root of it,” Sangma told journalists here on Saturday.
He was reacting to a query on whether a higher authority should step in to investigate the angle of illegal mining and transportation of coal following the brutal attack on anti-corruption activist Agnes Kharshiing and her associate Amita Sangma in coal-rich district of East Jaintia Hills on November 8.
James, who also visited NEIGRIHMS where Kharshiing has been admitted in the Intensive Critical Care Unit (ICCU) to express solidarity with her family, also strongly condemned the attack and assured that the guilty will be brought to justice.
“The incident that had taken place is very inhumane and barbaric specially to attack two unarmed women and I would like to assure you that we will be taken very swift action on this and we will bring the guilty to justice. We really pray for her speedy recovery,” he said.
Refusing to comment on the alleged nexus between the coal mafia and police, he said, “I don’t want to comment on whether there is a nexus or not. I think that this matter has to be looked into and only after this matter is investigated and there is prove of that then only will I say about that.”
On the demand for the instituting of a judicial or CBI probe into the incident, Sangma however said that a case has already been registered and the government feels that the police department is equipped to handle the case.
“We have already managed to nab two suspects so we are quite hopeful that things will progress and we will be able to crack this case very soon. But the government is thinking about it (to set up inquiry) but decision has not been taken as of now,” he added.
Asked whether any more arrests are expected in the coming days, James said that he does not want to go into the nitty gritty of the investigation but the persons have been arrested based on very hard and concrete evidence.
“Until and unless we have both circumstantial and real proof, I don’t think we would like to make unnecessary arrests so let the investigation continue and as and when we get more evidence we will make further arrests,” he said.
When asked as to what steps the government will take to prevent such lawlessness from becoming the order of the day in the state, James said it is constant endeavour of the government to ensure an environment where people feel secure.
He further added that incidents however will keep on happening but what is important is to make sure that the guilty are punished and are brought to justice which will send a strong message that these kinds of things will not be tolerated.
To another query, the home minister stated that when the chief minister speaks, he is speaking on behalf of the entire government. “When the CM speaks it means that we all share the same view it is a collective view of the cabinet,” he said.