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Meghalaya HC directs transfers of senior IPS over illegal mining

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Shillong: The Meghalaya High Court has ordered the transfer of Jagpal Singh Dhanoa, the Superintendent of Police, East Jaintia Hills district, for his failure to stop illegal mining and transportation of coal in the district.

A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Hamarsan Singh Thangkhiew and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh passed the order during the hearing of PIL No. 2/2022 pertaining to in Re: (Suo motu): Illegal mining of coal in the State of Meghalaya on Tuesday.

The Court directed the Home Department and State Director General of Police that Dhanoa should be immediately transferred from the present post and another competent officer be placed in-charge of the district immediately.

“The Superintendent of Police has been posted in East Jaintia Hills since 2021, and as such should have been alive and well acquainted with what is going on in the district,” the Court observed, even as it pointed out that the 19th interim report of Justice B P Katakey reflects that the “Superintendent of Police is perhaps un-effective in stemming the illegal activities”.

As regards the Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district, Abhilash Baranwal, the High Court issued a warning to him and directed that he takes all steps to ensure that the orders of the court are honoured and maintained.

It may be mentioned that Justice Katakey in his 19th interim report said that the contention of the Deputy Commissioner that the coal found behind Don Bosco College, Byndihati is the coal that was subsequently inventoried in 2018, is not acceptable.

According to the interim report, the coordinates Latitude: 25.318142 and Longitude: 92.269927 mentioned by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills District in the FIR dated November 7, 2023, which was registered as Khliehriat PS Case No. 87(11)23, do not tally with the coordinates mentioned in the inventory prepared by the then Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia

Hills District in the year 2018, which is N 25.33249, E 92.373775.

The report also stated that the Investigating Officer (IO) of Khliehriat PS Case No. 87 (11)23 by his communication dated November 21, 2023 has also informed the Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills District that during investigation it is found that the coal dumps as per the coordinates mentioned in the said FIR are not matching during the physical inspection of the coal dumps found behind Don Bosco College and the correct coordinates in respect of the said coal dumps, during investigation, are found as Latitude: 25.3326445 and Longitude: 92.3734301.

“The coordinates of the said coal dumps found by the IO also does not tally with the coordinates N 25.33249, E 92.373775 mentioned by the Deputy Commissioner in his communication dated 21/11/2023 to the I/O of Khliehriat PS Case No. 87(11)23. The coordinate, as recorded in the subsequently prepared inventory list in the year 2018 and the coordinate found by the IO during investigation in 2023 are different and hence the coal now found behind Don Bosco College cannot be the coal which was subsequently inventoried in the year 2018 and stated to be of Mul Sympli.

The coal found behind Don Bosco College, during the field visit on November 7, 2023, being bright and shining, the said coal also cannot be the coal subsequently inventoried in the year 2018,” the interim report of Justice Katakey said.

With regard to the presence of other coal dumps found in Byndihati area by the side of national highway, the High Court said that the manner in which these incidents and issues keep cropping up “cast severe doubts on the capabilities and keenness of the district authorities, especially the police to stop such incidents”.

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