Dodo Bheel’s Death: The Effect of Securitization and Labor Maltreatment in Thar Coal Projects

  • File ACJCE
  • File Aug 1, 2021 - Aug 31, 2021

This project brief covers details of a recent incident from Thar where a mining company worker was beaten to death at Thar Coalfield Block II. Dodo Bheel, a resident of Thar, was accused of stealing scrap from the complex along with his co-workers, and upon denying the accusation he was illegally kept and tortured in a private cell for 10 days by the security guards, leading to his death on June 30th 2021.

The incident resulted in protests, and demanded justice from the government authorities.  Government in addition to initiating judicial inquiry, has announced compensation packages for the aggrieved families. However, the incident reveals day-to-day atrocities faced by local labor in Thar at the hands of coal companies. The difficulties involve not being able to take leave, receiving late payments for their hard work, their health and safety compromised, being bullied by security guards, getting only non-management tier jobs, and strict restrictions on their movement at and around the coalfield.

Furthermore, there is no mechanism in place to address workers’ grievances, and no check and balance for misuse of power. In the absence of any management reforms by the coal companies and impartiality towards Thari workers , incidents of the nature of Dodo Bheel’s death are bound to repeat. As China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a project of national strategic importance and development of Thar is vital for Pakistan’s economic boost, efforts should be in place to create an amiable relationship with people of Thar. Tharis have given up their ancestral lands and their traditional sources of livelihoods for Pakistan’s progress and for an opportunity of upward mobility, at least they should be insured progress for Tharis — an access to better health, educational and employment opportunities.