Islamabad: Coal miners in Baluchistan are suffering from the dangers of insurgency, terrorism, sectarianism, dangerous working environment, along with decades of state-sponsored negligence, discrimination, violence and brutality.

Despite being a mineral-rich province of Pakistan, Baluchistan is ignored by the government and the coal miners suffered the most. Miners witnessed workplace accidents as they work in the high-risk zone and seek attention, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) reported.

The International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) is a non-profit, independent, and international think tank headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

The coal miners are subjected to the double-edged sword of cruelty and hazardous working condition causing severe fatalities.

Recently, on November 12, six coal miners were kidnapped from the Mach coalfield in Kachhi district (former name: Bolan District) of Baluchistan around 80 km away from the provincial capital city of Quetta.

According to IFFRAS citing sources, a large number of armed men entered the Mach coal field area and kidnapped six people working at different coal mines. The miners, working at mine no. 172. The coal miners belong to Swat Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

This is not the first incident. Earlier, on June 13, four coal miners were abducted at gunpoint from the Habibullah Coal Company including two engineers, in Hanna Urak, Quetta.

The sources also said that the kidnapers shifted the employees to an undisclosed location. Militants in the past targeted security forces and abducted coal miners.

Sorange and Marwar, the two areas of the provincial capital house rich coal reservoirs. It was further added that thousands of coalminers belonging to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Punjab are working in the province. Later on, the dead body of the mining company manager, Sher Bahadur was discovered on July 28 in Harnai.

Last year, in November, three coal miners were shot dead by unidentified armed men in the Zalawan area in Harnai, Baluchistan. The deceased belonged to Kandahar, Afghanistan, a think tank reported.

In 2021, in August, in a similar incident, three coal miners working in the Marwar coalfield area were gunned down by armed people. The victims were identified as Hidayat-ur-Rehman, Gul Hakim and Abdul Wakeel, who were working for two private coal companies: the National Coal Company and Dinar Coalmines.

Earlier on 2 January 2021, 11 coal miners were kidnapped and brutally slaughtered from the Mach coalfield area. Armed militants abducted coal miners from their shared residence and took them to some nearby mountains. The assailants first separated the miners, tied their hands and feet, and took them out into the hills later six of the miners were found dead and five who were critically wounded died on the way to a hospital. Islamic State, also known as Da'ish, later claimed responsibility for the attack, through its Amaq news agency via its Telegram communications channel, reported think tank.

All the victims belong to the Hazara community which has been frequently targeted by extremists from Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority. As expected, the incident outraged Hazaras who took to the streets in protest alongwith the families of the victims.

Not only the accidents but the working hour is equally the problem that miners have to go through. The working hour of coal miners is long up to 14 hours a day. While it is illegal to engage under the age of 18 in hazardous work, child labour is common in the mining industry in Pakistan, even children as young as 13-14 years old can be found working underground.

There are few health and safety measures for mine workers, little or no training, no paid holidays, no health insurance, and very meagre wages. Despite technological advancement around the globe, coal mine operators and owners in Pakistan do not want to budge from their dangerous, archaic mining methods, as per a think tank.

Despite of all this, the government has turned blind to this case. The authorities have also failed to enforce strict safety measures. In the face of the horrifying death toll in the recent past, effective health and safety monitoring mechanisms are also severely lacking. The government offers almost no legal, financial, technological or social security to miners.