Bokaro, Jan. 31: The sustained crackdown on coal smuggling blew the lid of police-pilferer nexus when a chowkidar of Nawadih police station and three others were arrested today while trying to ship out a huge illegal consignment.
More than 40 tonnes of illegal coal worth over Rs 2 lakh, which was being ferried on two trucks, were seized during the raid in the forest zone of Nawadih, about 36km from Bokaro steel city. Chowkidar Ram Chandra Mahto, who was later found to be the leader of the smuggling gang, was escorting the trucks in an SUV when Bermo police, acting on orders of Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi, nabbed him.
The others are drivers Phulendra Mahto, Nemchand Mahto and Mohan Mahto. Police, who said Ram Chandra was involved in coal smuggling for several years, also seized the trucks and the SUV. Two vehicles are from Dhanbad while one is from Bokaro. Their owners have been summoned for interrogations.
"The chowkidar will be sent to jail after interrogations. We will mount pressure on him to name his aides," said SP Dwivedi.
He added that he constituted six teams of four policemen each to keep an eye on four zones of Bermo and provide information about illegal coal trade. "It was on the basis of their information that today's raid was conducted," he said.
More than 700 tonnes of illegal coal, estimated to cost over Rs 35 lakh, were seized from Naxalite-hit areas of Bermo sub-division during raids over the past month.