By Mustapha Jallow
There was mass arrest of young men and a woman yesterday, Monday, 23 November, 2015 by the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) in Kartong village following alleged protestsby the members of the community against the mining activities in the area.
According to Sulayman Sabally, an eye witness, this latest round of protest started around 8 pm on Sunday (22 November) when trucks arrived in the village for the purpose of collecting sand in the area. He said it was at this time when the village youth mobilised themselves to prevent the trucks from collecting the sand in the outlying areas. He said this stand-off went on until around 3 am when the truck drivers decided to leave their vehicles behind.
Mr. Sabally said the truck drivers again returned around 8am on Monday, but this time with armed PIU personnel.
When this reporter arrived in the village around 11am on Monday, he witnessed a tense atmosphere, as there was a stand-off between the village youth on the one side and the PIU on the other. The situation, however, deteriorated when the armed PIU personnel used tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd.
A tense atmosphere gripped Kartong as youths and security personnel confronted each other. The village elders were seen appealing for calm.
The pandemonium was followed by arrests of many young people by the security, while about forty trucks waited for calm to return to collect sand.
Readers would recall that this reporter did conduct interviews with the villagers prior to this incident regarding the impact of sand mining.
After the incident, some of the women, who spoke to this reporter, also registered their disapproval of the mining activities in the area. “The areas they are mining are part of our farmland that we used for gardening to get income to support our families,” said one of them.
Another woman said the community is not benefiting from the mining and appealed to the authorities to stop the activities.
When the Ward Councillor was contacted, he declined to make any comments.
This reporter can confirm the arrest and detention of nine young men at the Brusubi police station and five at Gunjur. It was later learnt that the ones at Gunjur have now been transferred to Brusubi.
An elderly person, Omar Manneh, who was said to be sick, was also reported to be among those arrested and detained.
One Yama Jarju is the only woman among the 22 people arrested in Kartong. The others who are arrested include Solomon Manneh, Pabi Manneh, an 18 year old, Njoba John, Alagie Kudus Touray, Emil Demba, Sakoh Njie Jabang, Kali Manneh, Bala Musa Cham, Kebba Sabally, Momodou Lamin Manneh, HabibTouray, Fabu Manneh, BaiYusupha Manneh, Bombo Manneh, Daddy Manneh, Pa MannehTouray, Baba Ceesay, Lamin Ceesay, and SeckaTouray, who is said to be mentally deranged. The villagers expressed concern about the health of Kebba Sabally, who is said to be seriously injured as he was being put under arrest. They are wondering whether he has been taken to the hospital for treatment by his arrestors.
As we go to press, Foroyaa received information that the arrests are still on going.