The arrested smugglers at Tatijharia police station in Hazaribagh on Saturday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Hazaribagh, Jan. 13: The officers in charge of two police stations in Hazaribagh were suspended last night after a group of smugglers, who were arrested following a clandestine operation in the morning, revealed the duo were part of an illegal coal racket.
Hazaribagh SP Manoj Kaushik confirmed that he ordered the suspensions of Ramdayal Munda, the OC of Vishnugarh, and S.K. Pathak (Muffasil) after instructions from inspector-general (Coal Belt) Murari Lal Meena. The IG will also write to his higher-ups to take further action against the officers.
Meena had masterminded the operation in which a 35-member team of policemen from Bokaro, Hazaribagh and Giridih seized smuggled coal, Rs 1.86 lakh in cash and nine trucks headed for Punjab, besides arresting 17 men, in Tatijharia yesterday.
The arrested smugglers said police officers took bribe to clear the passage of each truck from their areas.
Sources added that the call details on the mobile phones of the suspended OCs also revealed that they were in touch with smugglers.
Both the officers allowed trucks carrying smuggled coal to cross areas under the jurisdiction of their thanas in exchange for Rs 3,000 for every vehicle, the arrested persons claimed. Their revelations hinted at an active racket of policemen and smugglers in Hazaribagh, Bokaro and Ramgarh districts.
Local police officers were today tight-lipped on the suspensions, claiming the arrested criminals were still being investigated.
However, sources in the police said two persons were picked up in Kujju, Ramgarh, where IG Meena and deputy inspector-general Suman Gupta led raids late last night.
This was after the police seized fake documents from the truck drivers and cleaners arrested yesterday. The culprits, whose identities are yet to be revealed, said the documents were printed in Kujju, around 36km from Hazaribagh.
Sources said in districts such as Bokaro and Ramgarh, coal PSUs issue permits for transportation of the mineral and certifying its quality.
Meena told The Telegraph illegal coal business was rampant even though he had issued several warnings to Hazaribagh police to put a lid on it.
The IG pointed out that he constituted separate teams from Bokaro and Giridih to assist Hazaribagh police yesterday.
“Maoists are also making huge money from the coal business. The illegal practice is going on with co-operation of the police,” Meena said, promising strict action against those involved.
The Hazaribagh SP had also suspended Churchu OC Surendra Ravidas on charges of involvement with illegal coal transporters on January 10.
Sources said the ongoing investigations were likely to throw up names of more officers. The illegal business in Hazaribagh, Bokaro and Ramgarh has grown in the past few months, as there are no proper checks on trucks heading to places like Varanasi and Punjab.
Vehicles heading for the two places take the Grand Truck Road via Hazaribagh.
Raids in Bokaro
Bokaro police today seized around 150 tonne illegal coal after raids in Upper Ghat, Nawadih, Gandhinagar and Kanjkiro on the directions of IG Meena.
DIG (Coal Belt) Lakshman Prasad Singh said, “The raids were carried out today as part of an ongoing drive of the police against the illegal coal smuggling. All the OCs in police stations of Dhanbad and Bokaro have been instructed to take tough action against any report of coal smuggling.”