Six illegal miners trapped in an underground pit in the Asansol-Durgapur belt on 2 May was rescued after 31 hours yesterday evening by the villagers. The six rescued illegal have initially been shifted to the Asansol District Hospital. They spent as many as 31 hours inside the pit, kept alive by oxygen pumped in by the rescuers and sustaining themselves on biscuits and water winched down from above.
The police said the six would be arrested after they were released from the hospital. According to the senior police officials with the Asansol Durgapur Police Commissionerate, specific sections suggesting penal measure for maneuvering illegal mining will be brought against them and an inquiry has already been ordered.
The pit located in Pariharpur village under ward 5 in Jamuria Municipality near Durgapur was filled up by the Bengal police in such haste that six suspected pilferers were trapped inside. The decision to fill up the illegal pits was taken in a hurry just to cap an Opposition campaign of a nexus between Trinamool Congress and the local coal mafia.
After coming to power in 2011, the Trinamool government had initially cracked down hard on illegal mining. However, the “compulsions of politics” appeared to have forced the administration to go easy eventually. “A compromise had to be worked out,” a Trinamool leader said on condition of anonymity.
Bangshagopal Chowdhury, the CPM candidate for the Asansol Lok Sabha seat that goes to polls on May 7, alleged that illegal mining was rampant with the backing of Trinamool. “We had complained to the Election Commission. The police hastily filled up the holes of the illegal mine without verifying whether anybody was trapped inside because they wanted to hush up the fact that illegal mining was rampant here.”
Congress candidate Indrani Mishra echoed Chowdhury. “We all know the nexus between the Trinamul and the coal mafia,” she said.
But Trinamool leader and agriculture minister Maloy Ghatak said: “We have stopped illegal mining in the area. The local CPM is trying to bring back the dirty trade in the area in the wake of elections.”