One man died and three others were injured during a riot at a jade mining site operated by two companies in Hpakant township in Kachin State, a legislator said.
The trouble started when disatisfied staff allegedly set on fire the property of two jade mine companies in Lone Khin area in Hpakant late Sunday, said U Tint Soe, a Pyithu Hluttaw legislator.
“The trouble started as company staff were dissatisfied about the working hours. It did not concern wages,” he said on Monday.
The dispute started early Sunday when company officials asked the staff to resume working at 11am because workers had to rest early due to heavy rains, he said.
At around 7pm that day, some staff burned down their barracks because they were dissatisfied with the lack of electricity in some barracks and the presence of many security forces at the mine sites.
U Tint Soe said the staff also destroyed buildings, cars and vehicles using excavators and blocked fire trucks from the township from dousing the fire in the buildings.
The two companies’ jade stores were destroyed by the excavators and jade stones were distributed to thousands of people (not company staff) who flocked to the site.
U Tint Soe, said that the security force fired warning shots in order to stop people from stealing the jades stones.
“Hundreds of people flocked to the scene and carried away jade stones using motorbikes, cars, etc,” said local MP U Tint Soe, who arrived at the scene and witnessed the pandemonium.
A total of 49 people, including staff members of the two companies, were arrested by police.
“Thousands of Yaymasay jade hunters reached the site and tried to steal the jade, taking advantage of the conflict, so police opened fire,” said Ko Maung Myo, a resident of Lone Khin village who witnessed the chaos.
There are about 2500 staff members at the jade mine concession which belongs to the Shining Star and Mahar companies.
An official of Hpakant police station and officials from the state government declined to comment about the incident.