Police have arrested one person for allegedly engaging three boys who were buried alive while illegally mining sand on the Balason river.
The tragedy had occurred at Tripalijote in Matigara block of Siliguri subdivision on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday.
Sources said Matigara police had arrested Naresh Sahani, a resident of Tripalijote, on Monday night. “He had offered the work of sand mining to the boys. The investigation is in progress,” said a police officer.
The police arrested another person also for his alleged involvement in the incident. He was later released on personal bond.
The deceased were Monu Kumar (20), Samal Sahani (16) and Rohit Kumar (16). Barring Rohit, the other two were the residents of Tripalijote.
The trio were mining sand and loading the same into a truck when the earth on the riverbank became loose and fell on them. Their neighbour Akash Sahani, a Class IX student, escaped with injuries.
The incident again brought to light the illegal practice of mining minor minerals like sand and stones from riverbeds in north Bengal. The administration announced a number of steps following the boys’ deaths to stop the illegal mining.
“We have intensified vigil on either bank of the Balason. The heads of local panchayats have been asked to be on alert and intervene if minors are engaged in such illegal tasks,” said an official of the Matigara block administration.
On Tuesday, Siliguri mayor Gautam Deb reached Tripalijote and handed over cheques for Rs two lakh each as compensation to the next of kin of the deceased trio.
“I was here yesterday. Today again, I met the families and handed over to them the compensation provided by the government. The injured boy will be given a compensation of Rs 25,000,” said the mayor.