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State plan to sniff mining firm coffers

Security personnel dig out landmines planted by Naxalites on a road in Bundu, 40km from the state capital. File picture

Ranchi, July 26: Assembly elections nearing, officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty and director general of police Rajeev Kumar have hit upon a dynamite of an idea to curb rebel landmines, that of monitoring if explosive devices that are legitimately available with mining companies in Jharkhand manage to reach wrong hands.

Early this week, as grenades and arms were seized in Giridih’s Parasnath hills, Chakraborty and Kumar, then coincidentally in the same district as part of their two-day Santhal Pargana recce, decided it was high time to explore whether the explosives were pilfered from public sector majors BCCL and CCL.

DGP Kumar revealed that a high-level meeting was likely anytime next week with controllers of explosives of the PSUs, officials authorised to hand over landmines and dynamite for blasting jobs and keep tabs on the inventory. Not only is the job sensitive, it comes with enormous responsibility.

Chakraborty will chair the meeting, the DGP added.

“The agenda of the meeting is simple. We want to ensure no pilferage of explosives takes place from companies. Explosives shouldn’t reach wrong hands. We want to get all stakeholders on board in our fight against Naxalism,” Kumar told The Telegraph.

“We will start surprise probes and audit record books of mining companies. We want facts and figures at our fingertips,” the DGP added.

“Ahead of Assembly elections, it is imperative that we ensure safety measures and cleanse the limited Naxalite groups from the state,” he said, referring to violence during Lok Sabha polls.

Every mining company uses controlled explosions for rock and land blasting. According to the Explosives Rules, 2008, mining companies permitted controlled explosions must maintain records about their use and share them regularly with the Centre.

But, it remains to be seen how many tiers of employees the explosives might pass and how, if at all, rebels could strike underhand deals to get hold of them.

“Illegal pilferage of explosive items may well happen. Explosives meant for the internal use of mining companies may reach Naxalite forces, enabling them to make landmines, grenades and other ammunition,” said a senior policeman.

Acting on a tip-off on Monday, Giridih police recovered huge cache of large grenades, around 50 countrymade pistols, some 303 guns and about 15 rifles after a daylong operation in Parasnath hills. Police also busted a concrete bunker inside the hills.

Chakraborty said border districts were vulnerable. “Rebels often shuttle between Bengal and Jharkhand, making Santhal Pargana as a whole sensitive. But the fear element is very high and there is a natural tendency among people not to cooperate with police, which is why local intelligence gathering suffers,” he said.

He stressed on “almost a military-type operation with ground-aerial coordination” concentrating on certain tracts of land, sanitising them and moving ahead. “Dumka has a firm air base, which will help us,” he said.

On Naxalite activities in Giridih, Chakraborty said some 45-50 hardcore rebels were led by one Ajay Mahto in Parasnath hills. “It is not a big group. We are concentrating on launching operations across the hill from all sides simultaneously,” he said.


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