Monday, 30th October 2017

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Bullets fly for coal rule

Section 144 clamped at BCCL site, probe ordered

By Our Correspondent in Dhanbad
  • Published 26.04.18
TENSION: Supporters of Baghmara MLA Dhullu Mahto protest with weapons at New Akashkinaree Colliery of BCCL near Dhanbad on Wednesday. Picture by Gautam Dey

Dhanbad: Three persons were injured - one of them being shot at - during a clash allegedly between supporters of Baghmara MLA Dhullu Mahto and zilla parishad member Subhas Rai over control of a coal loading site, 20km from town, on Wednesday.

The tension at New Akashkinaree Colliery of BCCL in Baghmara prompted SDO Ananya Mittal to clamp prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and order an inquiry.

Trouble erupted around 8am when a truck owned by coal trader Jagdish Rai, younger brother of Subhas Rai, arrived at the site with 50-plus armed men anticipating protests by supporters of the MLA who controls coal loading. Sources said Mahto's men, numbering over 100, too rushed to the site armed with guns, swords, axes and sticks.

"Before anyone could intervene, the two groups attacked each other. Bombs were hurled and at least 20 rounds fired - mostly in the air - during the clash that continued for more than half an hour," said a witness.

Police led by Baghmara DSP Bahaman Tuti reached the site past 9am. By the time they controlled the mobs, Mahto's supporter Dharmendra Gupta, who is also the president of BJP's Baghmara youth wing, had sustained a bullet wound. The others injured were journalist Om Prakash Jha, who works with a vernacular newspaper and was covering the news, and Rai supporter Ajmul Sheikh.

The injured supporters were admitted to Patliputra Medical College and Hospital while journalist Jha is being treated at the private Nichitpur Clinic in Katras.

Speaking to reporters at the hospital, Ajmul said he was surrounded by supporters of the MLA when he was heading towards the market on his bike. "They beat me up with hockey sticks and asked me to leave Baghmara," he said.

Jha was also biking, but to the clash site, when he was intercepted allegedly by Mahto's supporters. "I said I was a reporter, not a supporter of the other group, but the MLA's men just wouldn't listen. They attacked me with hockey sticks and swords. My helmet saved me from the swords, but the sticks didn't spare my hands, legs and back," he said.

Rural SP Ashutosh Shekhar said a thorough probe would be conducted and those who mobilised the attack would be taken to task.

SDO Mittal said the "volatile situation" prompted him to impose Section144. "I have ordered a probe. Police will act against those involved in the incident."