Meghalaya social activist Agnes Kharshiing and her associate Anita Sangma were attacked by suspected coal mafia in Jaiñtia Hills on Thursday when they were returning from Lad Rymbai in East Jaiñtia Hills district. Both of them were seriously injured, a police official said.
They were first taken to Jowai civil hospital in West Jaiñtia Hills district. But later as they were rushed to North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), about 8 km from Shillong.
The incident happened at Tuber Sohshrieh, a village in East Jaiñtia Hills district bordering West Jaiñtia Hills district.
Reportedly, Agnes and Anita were attacked at around 2 pm when their vehicle stopped at Tuber Sohshrieh and took pictures of some coal-laden trucks that were parked there.
Both of them were attacked by a group of people with sharp objects and suffered serious injuries on the head and other parts of the body. However detailed information about the incident is still awaited.
“We had no idea what has happened exactly except knowing that she was seriously injured,” Agnes’s elder brother John F Kharshiing said.
The attack on Agnes who is also an RTI activist was the second attack on social activist in East Jaiñtia Hills district.
On March 19 this year, RTI activist Poipynhun Majaw, who was the president of the Jaiñtia Youth Federation (JYF), was found murdered in Khliehriat, the district headquarter of East Jaiñtia Hills.
Incidents of illegal mining have allegedly been taking place in the coal-rich areas even though the ban on coal mining and transportation of extracted coal by the National Green Tribunal in Meghalaya is still effective.
The ban by the NGT came into force since April 17, 2014.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma strongly condemned the incident of attack on Agnes Kharshiing and her team.
In a statement Sangma said, “We have issued necessary directions to the police and district administration to investigate the matter and arrest those behind the attack. Civil Society plays an important role in a democratic system as they are instrumental in highlighting the concerns of the people. Violence in any form will not be tolerated and the government will take all necessary steps to ensure that those behind the attack are brought to justice.”