Patna, March 2: Rohtas police conducted raids against illegal mining in the district today even as security for the Shahabad divisional forest officer (DFO) has been stepped up in wake of threats from the mafia.
Three JCB machines, eight tractors and five dumpers were seized and nine persons were arrested.
The forest officer, S. Chandrasekhar, received an anonymous letter threatening him and his family for continuing operations against illegal mining in the region. The letter was sent a fortnight ago through registered post to Chandrasekhar’s office in Sasaram, the Rohtas district headquarters around 180km southwest of Patna.
On receiving it, the officer shot off letters to his seniors, including secretary of forests and environment department Dipak Kumar Singh. Last Thursday, the letter was forwarded to the Rohtas district magistrate and the superintendent of police (SP) with a request for adequate security to Chandrasekhar.
Rohtas SP Manu Maharaj said the DFO’s security has been beefed up in the wake of threat perception. “I personally reviewed the security arrangements for the officer,” he told The Telegraph.
The threat assumes significance as the only DFO killed in the state was from this same area. Sanjay Singh, then Shahabad DFO, was killed in February 2002, allegedly by Naxalites in the Rehal forest area for carrying out intensive raids against illegal mining.
It is believed part of the money procured through the quarrying was paid to the Naxalites as levy.
In stepping up Chandrasekhar’s security, sources said two bodyguards, five guards at his residence, five personnel of the district police and 10 homeguards have been deployed. Additional security forces have also been deployed for conducting operations against illegal mining.
The officer is, however, undeterred by the threats. He said: “I have taken all the precautionary measures in wake of the threat but I will lot let it affect my work.”
The police have also not stopped its raids to crack down on illegal mining. In the past two years since Chandrasekhar joined his post, action has been taken against more than 200 people involved in illegal mining.
Today, raids were carried out at three places, including Bansa and Karwandia, around 25km southwest of Sasaram town. Chandrasekhar too accompanied the police in the raid. Aslam Ansari, a resident of Jamhor in Rohtas district, believed to be the kingpin of stone crusher units running without valid licence in the area, managed to evade arrest.
The DFO is not the first government official to receive threats via letters. Sources said at least 10 senior government officials have recently received threats in letters instead of on phones.