The Congress scored a self-goal on Thursday when it raised the issue of trapped miners in the Northeast, but was not sure in which state the miners were trapped. The Congress’s Vincent H Pala gave notice in Parliament for an adjournment motion on the “need to rescue miners trapped in East Jaintia Hills district, Mizoram”. The problem is, they are trapped in Meghalaya, not Mizoram.

Why it’s more than just a typo

It can be anything but a typo. Meghalaya itself, and more specifically the East Jaintia district, where the tragedy has struck, is surrounded by only two states. On its north and east, it’s enveloped by Assam and on its south and west, it has Bangladesh. The distance between Khliehriat, the East Jaintia hills district headquarters and Mizoram (which is wrongly claimed to be the venue of the tragedy) is 408 km. It takes approximately 15 hours to drive between the two via National Highway 6.



Locals illegally extracting coal using dangerously small entrances that can best be described as rat holes have been trapped for days in one such illegal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia hills. Fifteen such miners have been trapped inside a mine for 14 days now, notwithstanding the incessant efforts by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).


As NDRF and Coal India experts battle against time to pump out water from the 320-350-ft deep main shaft of the illegal coal mine in a bid to rescue the miners, the matter came under the national spotlight only after Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted about it.

Gandhi sarcastically addressed Prime Minister Modi, seeking his attention as Modi inaugurated the Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge, on Tuesday. The Congress woke up and so did the national media that was so far indifferent to the issue. Sensing the mood, the Congress gave the notice to embarrass the treasury benches. But it ended up embarrassing itself.

At a time when the BJP is increasingly positioning itself as the party that is giving the Northeast its due by connecting it with mainland India, notwithstanding criticism from its own ally Conrad Sangma of not providing requisite high powered pumps to rescue the trapped miners, this ‘clerical mistake’ will only reinforce what the ruling party has all along been saying — that the Congress knows little about the region and cannot, hence, care about it.