A construction worker from Assam was killed and seven others were injured after a group of masked miscreants attacked them at St. Xavier’s College in Umoid village under South West Khasi Hills district.
The incident occurred on Wednesday night at around 11:30 when the eight construction workers were deep in sleep in one of the rooms of the college.
The eight workers were hired for construction of the administrative block and girl’s hostel of St. Xavier’s College and had the permission required from the Licensing Officer, Labour Department of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC).
The deceased worker was identified as Raju Mondal (22) from South Salmara Mankachar, Assam. Others who were injured and presently under medical attention in Mawkyrwat CHC and Shillong Civil Hospital are Aminul Islam (35), Abul Mondal (29), Bahadur Sheikh (32), Abdul Bari (42), Shahinoor Alom (21), Yeasin Mondal (45) and Amir Hussain (24).
“We reached Umoid after we were assured by the father (priest) from Guwahati that he has spoken with the villagers and nothing will happen to us if we worked there,” one of the labourers Aminul Islam who lost his brother (Raju) in the assault told reporters in Shillong on Thursday.
“We went to sleep by 11 pm when suddenly around 25-30 masked men broke in and started beating us brutally with sticks, daggers, etc. and injured us all and left. My brother was attacked with a stick from the back of his head,” he said.
Principal and Director of the school Paul Coelho in a statement said, “Violence is not an acceptable solution to any problem, no matter what it is. A threat to the life or wellbeing of an innocent worker is not a price that the authorities are willing to accept.”
According to a FIR lodged at the Mawkyrwat police station, the construction workers reached the construction site on February 19. On February 22, at around 8 am, the village secretary, headman and village authorities of Umoid-Shaidshaid met the college authorities and objected to their stay and work until further arrangement.
Following the objection, the college authorities shifted the workers to Nativity Higher Secondary School, Mawkyrwat for their safety.
“On February 23, we sent a letter of clarification to the village authority and on the same day had a cordial meeting where the labourers have been granted permission to stay and work for the construction of the college,” the FIR said, adding, “Therefore, we shifted to Umoid college construction site on February 24 at 7:30 am, but they were brutally attacked at around 11:30 pm.”
Coelho said that prior to the arrival of the workers the school authorities had sought the approval of several important officials in the state, including the Chief Minister, Law Minister and Home Minister.
“In addition, the school authorities also met the presidents of some NGOs, including the KSU and HYC, to explain the need for these workers. They also met with the local DC and local leaders. At every stage they were assured of the safety of the workers, acknowledging that their intentions as an educational institution were genuine and the purpose was not to run a for-profit business. All the workers possessed the work licenses mandated by the state and every procedure was followed.”
Meanwhile, Assistant Inspector General of Police (R), DM Sangma in a press release informed that a criminal case has been registered into the case.
“In the course of investigation, three persons have been detained and further investigation is being conducted to identify the persons involved in the case,” he said.