ASANSOL: A villager was killed and two people, one of them a policeman, were injured after a group of about 150 illegal coal miners of Chichurbil village in Churulia attacked police and private security personnel of the Tara East Open Cast Coal Mine of the Bengal Emta group on Wednesday morning.
Nimai Mukherjee, director of Bengal Emta Coal Mines Limited, a joint venture of WBPDCL and the Emta Group, said that local people enter coal mines to collect coal chunks each day. “Our security guards prevent them from entering the mining area. Today, when they tried to enter the area by force, the security personnel and the local Churulia police camp put up stiff resistance. But the police and security personnel were heavily outnumbered by the mob, of whom there were about 150. The mob started pelting stones and bricks at them. When the police counter-attacked, they tried to flee and in the process, one person fell into the pit and died,” he said.
Purna Bauri, 40, of Chichurbil village fell into a pit and was declared dead at Asansol SD Hospital. His relative, Baikuntha Bauri, alleged that police beat up Purna when he fell while trying to escape.
Assistant sub-inspector Tapas Kumar Ghosh and a private security guard, Sujit Kumar Ghosh, were seriously injured.
The policeman and the private guard have been admitted to CAMRI Hospital in Burdwan with serious head injuries. Eminent neurosurgeon Thomas Joseph of CAMRI Hospital said that the condition of the former is very serious. Tapas is the in-charge of the local Churulia police camp, set up to prevent illegal coal mining in the area a decade back.
Debashis Dhar, DSP (headquarter) of Asansol is camping in the area. The situation there is still very tense. Nobody has been arrested so far in this connection, however.
The Tara mine, with an annual production of 4 million tonnes, is the largest coal mine of the state.
Talking to TOI, Biswanath Dutta, the director of Bengal Emta, said that the company is worried about the regular theft of coal in the area. Jamuria police has failed in stopping coal pilferage. In fact, coal theft has increased in recent times, he alleged.
The coal mafia has recently graduated to using tractors and pick-up vans from cycles to transport coal, as the illegal trade has increased by leaps and bounds in Jamuria, alleged Trinamool Congress leader Purna Sashi Roy.
Prasun Banerjee, ASP of Asansol, said a case has been registered with Jamuria police and that police will conduct raids to arrest the culprits. The Local CPM unit has called a peace meeting in the area to defuse the tension.