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Activist Agnes Kharshiing before being discharged from the hospital 
Activist Agnes Kharshiing before being discharged from the hospital |File image
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‘It’s sad to see that illegal coal mining continues in Meghalaya’

Exclusive interview with rights activist Agnes Kharshiing, who was brutally attacked by members of suspected coal mafia in East Jaintia Hills on Nov 8 

Sabra Nagi

Sabra Nagi

Shillong: It’s sad to see that the government has allowed illegal coal mining to continue in the state despite the National Green Tribunal ban, said Meghalaya rights activist Agnes Kharshiing.

Kharshhing, who is the president of the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), was referring to the November 8 incident in which she and her aide were brutally attacked by members of suspected coal mafia.

In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, the rights activist said that the government is not taking the matter seriously and that too for its own good. “It is sad to see that the government has allowed such things. It is almost like a lynching attack against us even when the Supreme Court has said that these activities should not be allowed. Maybe it is because I've been fighting a lot against the government to expose corruption... So, they were sort of happy that they were trying to get me away from it,” she said.

Kharshiing was recently discharged from the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) in Shillong where she was undergoing treatment for over a month following the attack in East Jaintia Hills.

Recently, a demand for CBI probe into the incident was turned down by the government in favour of a judicial probe. Kharshiing said: “Maybe they are scared. Let the CBI expose this because the money of the revenue of the state is being leaked. Should the government not give importance to such a big issue?"

Referring to the recent tragedy in East Jaintia Hills district where at least 13 labourers were trapped inside an illegal coal mine, Kharshiing felt that the government was hand in glove with the illegal miners. “If the government is clean, then they should immediately arrest the administration of that area. How can they not know that there is coal in the area? You may not know the miners but where is all that coal going to? It is being taken in trucks to all government officials. Should they not be arrested and sent to jail?” questioned Kharshiing.

“With you all here (media), helping us, I feel we are getting stronger. How we deal with it is what matters because the government is not only the people working in the government but it is the people who is the government. Everybody, including the media,and the general public, should take stock of the situation," she added.

Commenting on her future course of action, Kharshiing said: “I've been fighting a lot of RTIs. I don't know what the replies I've been getting. One is about the water supply in Shillong since many people are not getting water."

"I think I will get back stronger and better equipped,” she added.