Coal mine

DIBRUGARH: Two coal miners were killed in an illegal rat-hole mine at Ledo in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district.

The bodies of two miners were recovered on Wednesday from a rate hole mine at the Molo Pahar area under the Ledo police station in the Tinsukia district.

Police suspect that they died due to inhalation of some poisonous gas like methane at the illegal mine in Ledo.

One of the two killed miners has been identified as Nayan Phukan, a resident of the Itakhuli area of Ledo. 

Sources said they worked under one Kitesh Debnath, who runs the illegal coal trade in Ledo. 

“Many youths have died so far in the rat-hole mines. Most of them were from poor backgrounds and were involved in the illegal procuring of coals. A few months back,  a youth from Makum was killed in rat-hole mines in the Ledo area. The body of the youth identified as Pranjal Moran was retrieved after three months from the rat-hole mine,” said a source.

Urvasi Moran, 24, widow of Pranjal Moran said, “I lost my husband in the illegal rat-hole mining in January this year but they didn’t inform us and secretly buried his body in a coal mines area. After a prolonged fight, police retrieved his body from a Rat-Hole mine in Tirap Colliery on April 7. To earn more money Pranjal has joined in the coal mining job. Many coal miners who were hired from places like Goalpara, Nalbari of Assam died during the coal extraction but the coal mafias covered up such incidents and don’t inform their family members”.

In September last year, at least three workers were killed at an illegal “rat hole” mine in Ledo.

Police officials said illegal ‘rat hole’ mines have been mushrooming in Margherita and Ledo in the Tinsukia district. Coal smugglers run an organised racket in the area.

“‘Rat hole’ mining is banned, but such mines still operate in some parts of the region. We crack down on such mines whenever we get any information,” said a police official.

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: