The CBI on Saturday conducted searches in 45 premises spread across West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh in connection with an ongoing investigation into the illegal trade of coal.
The searches were conducted at the residences and offices of Anup Maji alias Lala, the alleged kingpin of the racket, along with those of his associates. The residences and offices of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) officials were also searched.
Sources said that during the searches, more than Rs 40 lakh and incriminating documents were recovered. Electronic devices were also seized.
According to CBI, Maji, in connivance with ECL officials and security officers, engaged in illegal mining of coal from mines on leasehold areas of ECL. Sleuths also believe that a section of officers of Railways and other departments are also involved.
An FIR was registered by CBI’s anti-corruption branch in Kolkata on November 27 under relevant sections of the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 relating to criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by public servant, criminal misconduct by public servant, etc.
The FIR names Maji, along with former ECL general manager (Kunustoria area) Amit Kumar Dhar, general manager (Kajora area) Jayesh Chandra Rai, chief of security (Asansol) Tanmoy Das and security in-charge (Kajora) Debashish Mukherjee, among others.
The FIR also states that during a joint inspection conducted by the Vigilance Department and ECL task force on several leasehold areas under ECL, evidence of extensive illegal mining on leasehold areas under ECL and its transportation was found. During these inspections a large number of vehicles and equipment used in illegal coal mining /transportation and illegally excavated coal have been seized.
The BJP welcomed the CBI searches. “For years, the illegal coal scam has been happening in Bengal and other areas. CBI investigation will bring out the truth. There are big names behind the illegal coal racket,” Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.
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