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Inspector under probe for mining empire

Kasipur (Purulia), Nov. 27: A circle inspector in charge of four blocks in the district is facing an inquiry into his alleged links with illegal miners.

Mokar Hussein has been shifted to Dinhata as a court inspector, apparently to facilitate the probe. He was accused of working in collusion with illegal miners and transporters of baryte, a mineral used in making paint and gunpowder.

Superintendent of police V.K. Goyal said the subdivisional police officer of Raghunathpur has been asked to probe the charge.

Hussein, who was based in Adra and oversaw Kasipur, Hura and Puncha police station areas, reportedly stumbled on a consignment of the mineral around January this year. He had blocked a truckload of mineral at Kasipur Mor.

Residents of Chuna village, a kilometre from the quarrying site on the banks of the Darakeshwar river, said Hussein’s suspicions were aroused when the helper of the truck offered a big bribe for letting the stones go. The stones were baryte, which sells at Rs 544 per tonne.

Baburam Mahato, a Jharkhand-based contractor, used to lift laterite (moram), used in construction, from the quarry. A buyer told him that his shipments also had baryte, which sold at a higher price. With only a temporary permit to quarry laterite, Mahato is said to have started supplying baryte to other states.

After seizing the truck, the inspector saw an opportunity to enter the business. Keeping his son in the fore and allegedly getting Mahato and his men arrested on “false charges”, he allegedly took over operations after the May panchayat elections. The mining continued on a regular basis, with trucks coming in twice or thrice a week.

“For quite some time, we had no idea about the value of the stones and did not protest,” said Subodh Mahato, a resident of Chuna. “Last month, we realised that the police officer was robbing the region and the country.”

On the night of October 17, the villagers stopped a truck ferrying the mineral and protested against the illegal quarrying.

The circle inspector, who personally oversaw the mining and was present at the time, sought reinforcements from Kasipur police station. When the force arrived, the villagers were allegedly threatened with arrest for forcibly collecting Kali puja donations. “His son started coming to the site more often after that,” said Kamal Ganguly, another villager.

At his Adra residence, the inspector initially feigned ignorance. He later admitted that his son Shiraz Ansari “was doing something”. Shiraz owned Subarna Minerals and “had taken permission from the district mining officer for lifting baryte”, he said.

District mining officer P.K. Bargi said: “No permission whatsoever has been given to any party for mining in the region. We had penalised Subarna Minerals for lifting 12 tonnes of baryte.” Ansari was apparently using the penalty document to carry on with the mining.

Being a major mineral, permission to mine baryte can only be issued by the commerce and industries ministry in Calcutta.

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