August 20th, 2020

                                         By Umar Bacha


Usman-i-Room had been doing coal cutting work for the last 25 years and had been working in the various mines of different districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when one day when he was heading to work on Mine No. 4, he was killed.

Eyewitness, Gul Nawab told that early in the morning while heading towards the mine for work, at the Daula area of Orakzai district, in the same car as the contractor, some assailants opened fire at them killing Usman and the injuring the contractor who was seated next to him.

“I was seated in the back seat of the car and managed to survive but my cousin died on the spot as he received bullets in the head and chest. It is hard to believe that a few minutes earlier we were having a conversation and just two minutes later he was gone,” Mr. Nawab narrated.

After the incident, they visited the police station Terah and registered a case against unknown assailants. Usman who was just 36 years old left behind six children and a widow.

According to the mines rescue crew, Bashir from the same area Banar Khwargai of Shangla was killed at Darwaza, Orakzai on March 07, 2011.

Similarly, a laborer from Zarha, Shangla was shot dead over a mining dispute between locals in 2008 and yet another incident of mine dispute Saifullah of Shangla was injured in 2014.

Abid Yaar, the coalmine workers rights association’s president, told that poor coal miners are not safe even at their workplace in the merged district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because of disputes over the mines between local tribes.

He said the mine owners’ rivals kill and beat up the colliers taking their revenge from the poor miners as there are many disputed mines being run by contractors and some are also being run illegally, without the government’s permission.

A mine worker Umar Mehmood, said he along with 36 other miners of Daulat Kaly, Shangla, were recently forcibly laid off from the work and not even paid their pending wages.

“The manager of all three coalmines at Qasim Khel neither given prior notice nor any information asked us to leave the mines in the mid of the month of July,” he said and added when they asked for their pending wages the manager refused to pay their wages.

All the 37 sacked colliers then held a protest for forcibly lay off and pending wages but yet the managers paid their wages.

Sarfaraz Khan, a coal mine workers rights activist said the government particularly the mineral department should be aware of such matters and ensure security to the coalminers working hundreds of miles away from home.

He said the killing of poor coal miners was so pathetic and heart-wrenching particularly because these miners feed their family by working hundreds of feet underneath coalmines, therefore, respective deputy commissioners should hold meetings with the local elders in this matters and ensure protection and safety at their workplaces.