Illegal sand mining costs his life | Sunday Observer

Illegal sand mining costs his life

People burnt tyres in the area and blocked transport as a sign of protest
People burnt tyres in the area and blocked transport as a sign of protest

Yogarajah Thinesh, died due to Police gunshots at Manalkaadu Point Pedro, last Sunday (9). A vehicle loaded with soil travelled towards Manalkaadu, last Sunday around when Police stopped the vehicle, but the vehicle did not adhere to the warning, which prompted Police to open fire. Thus, Yogarajah Thinesh, 24 years, was killed in the incident.The postmortem report says, the cause of death is gunshot to the chest, and the body was buried amid tight security.

After the shooting, people burnt tyres in the area and blocked transport as a sign of protest. The STF was called to control the tense situation; stones were thrown at the STF vehicle, the Police station and the Police Officer’s house. The Police Officer who opened fired at the vehicle, is also from a nearby village. Police Officers, Sivarasa Sanjeevan and Mohamed Mubarak have been arrested and remanded until 24th of this month. At the same time, complaints were lodged against the protesters who initiated violence. The father of the Sub Inspector has made a complaint that his assets were damaged due to his home being stoned. The SLTB and STF also made complaints concerning their damaged vehicles.

Illegal soil mining and selling has been taking place in this area, over several years, and civilians blame the Police. However the Police are unable to take action against these illegal soil smugglers. A fortnight ago Police fired at a tractor transporting soil; the driver and others escaped and subsequently surrendered to Police.

During the previous government, soil smuggling blossomed with the support of some politicians. An environmental activist was killed in the soil mafia, when he tried to stop a tractor carrying soil; another environmental officer got himself transferred to Colombo after the incident. The villagers say, tractors transporting soil travel at high speed, and when these tractors take the road, pedestrians fear to walk on the road, as many accidents have happened in the area.

The illegal soil miners say, they are jobless and endure much hardship to earn a living. The boy who died in the shooting incident had recently returned from the Middle East. Although illegal soil mining is a threat to the environment, the Divisional Secretary or the Grama Sevaka is unable to take action against them, because it has become a mafia style operation; if they take action against these illegal soil miners they would have to face threats, an environmental activist said.