Shillong: In a big move, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma removed James Sangma as the home minister of the state.
The decision was announced through a notification issued late on Tuesday night. It said that the decision was taken as per the chief minister’s advise.
The decision comes amid allegations being levelled against James Sangma about his alleged involvement in corruption, including the running of the coal mining mafia in the state.
James is the elder brother of Conrad Sangma.
James would continue as the minister for power, taxation, food & civil supplies, information and public relations.
Lahkmen Rymbui has been given the charge of home (police) minister. Lahkmen Rymbui will continue with his other portfolios of forest and environment, border area development and education.
Cabinet minister AL Hek will take charge of home (jails) and home (passports) along with health & family welfare and arts & culture departments.
Earlier, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) ministers had shown discontentment with James manner in dealing with the affairs taking place in the state. And with several allegations that illegal coal transportation is happening in broad daylight and yet James had failed to act upon it.
“It remains to be seen if the new minister will be able to control the coal mafia. We will have to see if after this change, the government is able to crack down on corruption,” Agnes Kharshiing, president of Civil Society Women’s Organisation told EastMojo.
Agnes has been raising her voice against the illegal coal mining that has been going on in the state and was beaten up allegedly by people with allegiance to the coal mafia for highlighting the rampant illegal coal mining in Jaintia hills and other parts of Meghalaya.
Altogether 15 people lost their lives in an illegal rat hole mine in 2018 in the state. Interesting to note that Lahkmen Rymbui is from Jaintia hills, den of illegal coal mining. Illegal coal mining is rampant in Jaintia hills, Garo hills. Ksan tragedy struck in December 2018 where 15 miners were trapped and they died. Ksan is in east Jaintia hills.
When asked what will be his action plan to crackdown on corruption and illegal coal mining, Lahkmen Rymbui, while talking exclusively with the EastMojo, said, “It is too early to comment. First I would like to understand the working of the department and the issues involved. My top priority now is to understand how things are being done. I will not shy away from taking any step that would be necessary for the welfare of the state and for the people of Meghalaya. I will take all necessary steps to address any issue.”
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Ampareen Lyndoh told EastMojo, “It would have been more acceptable if deputy chief minister Prestone Tysong was given the home portfolio. Being from the eastern parts of Meghalaya he could have taken a more objective view of the whole coal mafia thing. The reshuffle clears shows that not all is well within the MDA coalition. Another thing that is quite concerning is giving AL Hek, the BJP minister the passport department amid CAA and ILP concerns.”