A protest rally will be also held in Shillong on Saturday to condemn the attack on Agnes and Sangma allegedly by a group of people instigated by coal mafias in the district.
Leader of Opposition in Assembly and former Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma condemned the incident and asked the authorities to waste no time in ensuring the arrest of the attackers and prosecute them as per the law.
Sangma had earlier raised the issue of ongoing illegal mining in some parts of the state and asked the state government to address the problem.
He even linked the transfer and posting of officers in the mining department to illegal coal mining.
Former Meghalaya Home Minister Robert G. Lyngdoh while condemning the attack on Agnes and her friend said that incident has showed the “seriousness of illegal coal mining. The problem is multi-dimensional and it involves multiple stakeholders. A proper time-bound enquiry has to be constituted and the culprits should be brought to book. The enquiry should also indicate the economic impact of the NGT ban on the micro-economy so that corrective measures can be initiated,” Lyngdoh said condemning the attack.
The Meghalaya Peoples’ Human Rights Council (MPHRC) said that it strongly condemned the attack strongest terms possible. “The climate of fear created by such attacks by perpetrators has threatened to silence few independent voices to enjoy a climate of impunity within our State” MPHRC chairman, Dino DG Dympep said.
The Council said that extreme seriousness of the attack warranted a thorough, prompt and a fair investigation by bringing the suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials without delay and providing effective remedies and adequate reparations to the victims.
“It is an imperative that these barbaric attacks, injustices and gross human rights abuses be seriously addressed by the government. We humbly stand in solidarity with Agnes’s family and community,” Dympep said.
The Meghalaya State Co-ordination Committee of Coal Owners, Miners and Dealers Forum, also condemned the attack on Agnes and Sangma and urged upon the law enforcing agencies to investigate into the incident and act thereof in accordance with the law.
“Right from the commencement of the ban imposed since 2014, the forum had been impressing upon all members to refrain from violating the direction of the National Green Tribunal and had never shield to defence any person/persons or group of people indulged in illegal mining activities,” Balios Swer, secretary in-charge Media Cell of the forum said.
The Centre for Research and Advocacy from Manipur also condemned the attack on Agnes and her friend and urged upon the Meghalaya Government to take urgent steps to investigate and arrest those involved in the attack.
“The government of Meghalaya should stop illegal mining of coal and limestone. The Government of India should stop all forms of harassment and targeting of indigenous human rights defenders and curtailment of the functioning of human rights organizations and uphold the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, 1999. The government should take urgent steps to protect the rights of human rights defenders in Meghalaya and across India’s North East,” secretary of the Centre, Jiten Yumnam said.