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Goons thrash forest officials

Bokaro, Dec. 13: Three forest officials were today beaten up and held hostage for over an hour by men working for a stone crushing unit when they visited the site to probe complaints of illegal business at Kanjkiro in Nawadih, 60km from the district headquarters.

Bokaro forest ranger Parmanand Rajak and his associates Virendra Pandey and Shiv Mangal Singh sustained injuries on their legs and hands and were let off by the men, who fled just before police arrived. The forest officials, who were taken to hospital for medical attention, later lodged a case with Bokaro Thermal police against Bharat Prajapati and Kishore Mahto, the owners of the crusher unit.

Sources said the forest officials received several complaints against the crusher unit for carrying out illegal mining. When the officials led by Rajak reached Kanjkiro forest around noon, they spotted a tractor filled with stone chips. On seeing them, a few men who were loading the tractor fled. The officials were about to seize the tractor when more than a dozen men, carrying sticks and rods, suddenly appeared and started beating them up.

Bokaro district forest officer (DFO) Arvind Manish came to know about the incident and immediately alerted SP Kuldeep Dwivedi who asked Bokaro Thermal police to rush to the spot. However, the attackers escaped with the tractor sensing police action.

Manish said the three officials had gone to crack down on the reported illegal unit but were overpowered. “We have been trying to stop illegal mining for several years. But as we are short of staff, we are unable to check the menace.”

Illegal stone mining in Bokaro has been continuing for years, thanks to a nexus of crusher unit owners, Maoists who charge levy, the police and mining and forest officers.

The district administration has repeatedly pointed out during law and order meetings that hills falling in forestland were being denuded gradually as a result of illegal stone mining.


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