Various NGOs of Phulbari under West Garo Hills (WGH) along with the forest ranger of Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) on Monday raided three illegal stone quarries in the village of Wadagokgre, a heritage site under the Archeological Society of India (ASI).
The raid was conducted after complaints by the local Nokma of miscreants setting up stone quarries within the Aking land of the Nokma with three such quarries busted. The raid led to the recovery of a water pump that was being used in one of the quarries with the illegal miners fleeing the spot on seeing the raiding party.
The Phulbari unit of the GSU, ASWA and the Achik Youths’ Movement for Betterment of Society (AYMBS) were the NGOs accompanying the GHADC forest team in the raid.
“These people have not only been settling illegally in the land but are going and destroying the area through their illegal acts of stone quarrying. We are trying to verify the illegal owners of the quarry so that an FIR can be filed against them,” said president of AYMBS, Peter A Sangma.
According to the NGOs, the Nokma had alerted them of the fact that some miscreants were using explosives in the quarries to mine stones after which the NGOs and the GHADC forest officials rushed to the spot.
“We rushed to the spot and managed to capture some of the equipment being used. While we were busy, the labourers and others fled from the spot,” added Joseph Sangma, GSU member.
The NGOs further asked the Nokma to not entertain such acts in the future and to file complaints if such acts were taking place. Further they asked the Nokma to hold a meeting in the village to ensure protection of their lands.
Wadagokgre has recently been in the limelight over allegations of illegal settlements of more than 300 families in what is historically important land under ASI. The NGOs have been critical of the government and the administration over the reluctance to act on the complaints from various quarters.