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Mining firm ED, manager gunned down

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By GAUTAM SARKAR
  • Published 12.10.09
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Amrapara (Pakur), Oct. 12: Dina Nath Saran (81), the executive director of Panem Coal Mine Project, one of the earliest private undertakings to explore options in Santhal Pargana, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen along with a senior manager while they were on a morning walk around 5.30am today.

So far, the police aren’t convinced about any Maoists’ involvement in the killing that has stunned the district and the state, but a combing operation has been launched in and around Chhota Paharpur hamlet under Amrapara block.

According to the IG of Santhal Pargana, Ram Lakshman Prasad, Saran received one bullet in his chest, while four bullets were pumped into senior manager Sital Prasad (60). Both died on the spot that’s near the hamlet on Dumka-Pakur road.

While Saran is survived by two sons and two daughters, Sital Prasad is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

“Since it was early morning, there is no witness. The possibility of Maoists’ involvement can be confirmed only after proper investigations,” he told The Telegraph after visiting the spot along with the DIG, Dumka, Murarilal Meena.

A policeman at Amrapara station said constable Sushil Soren may have seen the shooting from a distance of 300 metres. “There were two youths who were accompanied by four to five others on motorcycles. Soon after the firing, they vanished,” the policeman said, quoting the constable who informed the Amrapara police station half a kilometre away.

The SP of Pakur, Md Neehal, wasn’t convinced about the policeman’s claim. “We simply can’t accept the observations of the constable for several reasons,” he said without elaborating, but added that combing operations had been initiated in the bordering districts of Dumka, Godda and Sahebganj.

According to the firm’s PRO, Sanjoy Bhagat, Saran was a regular morning walker. “His quarters is about 1km from the Amrapara block headquarters. On several occasions we requested him to take bodyguards, but he never agreed,” he said.

Today’s incident would impact industry and mining projects in the state negatively, said industry secretary N.N. Sinha.

Saran was from Patna but settled down in Pakur in 2002 when the firm bought the lease to the coal block from the state government. He has weathered many a storm, primarily prolonged protests by tribal and non-tribals who were against leasing out coal blocks to private players.

Prasad, from neighbouring Godda district, was a former general manager at Simlong Coal Field. He joined Panem a month-and-a-half ago after retiring last year.

Their bodies have been handed over to their families. While Saran’s last rights would be performed at Varanasi, Prasad’s funeral would be conducted at Godda.