Hpakant Jade Scavenger in Hospital after Apparent Police Shooting

A man is receiving treatment for a non-lethal injury after an apparent shooting by police in the jade-mining town of Hpakant on Thursday.

The incident occurred near the village of Ywar Thit in the Lon Khin village-tract as a large group of jade scavengers were attempting to remove a piece of jade weighing more than 80kg from the mining concession of the Triple One Company.

“Police said about 40 jade pickers were illegally digging in the Triple One Company’s jade block when they found a piece that weighed about 50 viss [81.6kg]. As they were trying to carry the jade from the property, police fired a warning shot that struck one of the men in his left leg. The bullet didn’t hit the bone but went through the muscle,” said a witness who spoke to KNG.

According to police, however, the man was injured when he was hit by a stone.

“We have just received information about an injured person. According to the medical report, his injury was caused by a stone. He is not in critical condition because he was immediately transferred to the hospital after the incident,” said Hla Aung, the administrator for the Lon Khin village-tract.

The injured man, who was not identified by name, lives in Malan, a village in the Lon Khin village-tract. He is still in hospital receiving treatment for his injury.

Police and jade scavengers frequently clash in Hpakant, an often lawless township that attracts thousands of people from around the country who come in search of stray pieces of jade not claimed by the companies that buy rights to mine here.

Many companies allow scavengers to go through their tailings after 4pm, when most work for the day has been completed and the most valuable pieces have been extracted. However, the shooting on Thursday reportedly occurred around 12:30 in the afternoon.

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