It was better if the employee of the state-owned organization could be contacted. Even if it was not, it was not a problem. Thieves also had other traps. The gap in weight could be bridged if some coal was taken down from the dumper and water was poured in the middle. In the preliminary charge sheet submitted to the special CBI court in Asansol, the investigation agency has claimed such methods of how the coal theft syndicate was operating in the Asansol-Raniganj mining area of West Bengal.
Process of theft
CBI sources alleged that Anup Maji alias Lala’s people used to steal coal in four ways. First, the allegations of theft of coal using ECL’s transport system. As a rule, before leaving the mine, the weight of the dumper loaded with coal is measured in a ‘fork house’ machine. According to the investigators, there was a mistake. A dumper holds 15 tons of coal. But much more coal was taken from mining depots. When the dumper reached the fork house, the weight was shown to the concerned officer in charge of the fork house in the ‘manipulator’, 15 tons. The extra coal that was in the dumper was brought down by the people of Lala in various areas like Chittaranjan Road, Chanda, and Lachipur.
But many times, the ECL bosses used to monitor. At that time, 15 tons of coal were lifted in the dumper. However, it is alleged that coal was taken down on the way. According to one investigator, “The amount of water that fell short of the weight was mixed with the coal in the dumper. As a result, the weight had no way to get caught.”
Three more methods of theft
Secondly, coal thieves were allegedly building illegal pits in the ‘lease hold’ areas of state-owned coal mining companies ECL and BCCL. More allegations, Raniganj, Jamuria, Asansol, Kulti, Barabani, and Salanpur were headed by Jaydev Mondal and Narayan Kharka. It is also claimed that Lala himself and Gurupada Maji used to do this work in nearby areas including Neeradavaran Mandal in Bankura’s Barajora, Nituria, and Bhamuria in Purulia. Jaydev, Narayan, Gurupada and Neeradavaran were arrested by the CBI. Now they are out on bail. Their names are on the charge sheet.
Thirdly: It is alleged that ECL was stealing coal by dropping people in various legal mines in Pandaveshwar, Jhanjhra, Shonpur Bazari, Kunastaria, and Satgram areas. The CBI officers learned that it was going on in the dark of night with the connivance of the ECL officer in charge and a section of staff officers in charge of security. Fourth: Coal of ECL or BCCL was stolen at various places during transportation from railways.
According to a part of the investigators, workers to industrialists, influential people in the area, heads of state-owned organizations, and a part of the police were involved in the ‘coal syndicate’. Instead, there was a system of ‘opportunities’ for them. Asansol Durgapur Police Commissionerate or ECL officials did not want to open their mouths about the matter.