Salim Kancil had been leading a series of protests against a sand mining operation at Lumajang’s Watu Pecak Beach before he was attacked and killed in September 2015. (Antara Photo/Ari Bowo Sucipto)

Mining Activities Protested by Slain Farmer Illegal, Police Confirm


SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Jakarta. Police in East Java have deemed the sand mining operation protested by a farmer who was murdered for his activism to be illegal and charged a local village chief for allowing such activities to take place.

Salim, also known as Kancil, a farmer from the village of Selok Awar-Awar in Lumajang district, was found dead on Saturday, his body bearing signs of having been tortured. Police have charged 22 people in relation to the murder after it attracted nationwide attention.

Salim and another farmer Tosan, who is now in critical condition after a similar assault by the same group of men, had been protesting a sand mining operation at nearby Watu Pecak beach.

“The mining operation was illegal,” said Lumajang district police criminal investigation unit chief Adj. Comr. Heri Sugiono as quoted by news portal on Wednesday.

According to Heri, police have also confiscated mining equipment from the area and arrested the village chief Hariyono, who was named a suspect for illegal mining.

The officer however refused to divulge Hariyono's exact role in the mining operation.

“The operator of the [mining] equipment has already been charged in the previous case,” Heri said, referring to Salim's murder.

The remark confirmed that Salim's death was directly tied to his role in leading some 200 farmers to protest the mining operation.

The East Java Provincial Police have taken over the investigation into Salim's death, transferring all 22 people charged to its office in Surabaya on Wednesday.

Provincial police acknowledged that the move was prompted by strong public condemnation of the attack, which has even attracted the attention of President Joko Widodo.