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Chattisgarh police orders probe into viral video shows coal theft in SECL mine


A day after the Chhattisgarh police ordered a probe into a viral video that showed a large number of people digging coal at an opencast mine allegedly belonging to South Eastern Coalfield Limited (SECL) in Korba district, senior officials of the district visited the Gevra and Dipke coal mines on Friday and claimed no attempt was made by SCEL to stop any such theft. Korba collector Ranu Sahu along with superintendent of police Bhojram Patel visited the SCEL mines and reviewed the entry and exit arrangements of mines on Friday. Senior officials of SECL and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were also present at the spot during the visit.

However, the local administration claimed that the police are still not clear about the authenticity of the video and whether the video was shot in Korba district or not.

“In February, I called a meeting of the SCEL and the CISF officials and instructed them to secure all the coal mines by making trenches around them but nothing has been done. No such trenches were found. I also instructed them to close the mining area with wire fencing where the possible trespass takes place but nothing has been done. This is negligence on the part of SECL and CISF that no check post was established near the mining area to stop the coal theft,” said collector Ranu Sahu. The collector ordered the establishment of a CISF outpost near the mines which are connected to the main road and to deploy an officer as soon as possible.

“The authenticity of the video is yet to be ascertained and the probe is on. SECL has engaged CISF and Tripura State Rifles for security of its mining projects. Management is open for any suggestion with regard to positioning and strengthening of the force,” said Sanish Chandra, public relations officer of SECL, commenting on the collector’s statement.

On Thursday evening, inspector general of police (Bilaspur range) Ratanlal Dangi, ordered a probe into the viral video and directed that the matter should be investigated as soon as possible.

The video shows a large number of women and men digging an opencast with pickaxes and other tools. People are also seen, carrying coal-filled sacks on their shoulders and heads and coming out of the mine in queues. The IG ordered an enquiry by the Anti-Crime and Cyber unit.

The terms of reference of the probe include finding out which mine is seen in the video and why the central security force could not prevent entry of people in such a large number there.

“Police cases were lodged by officials of SECL regarding coal theft in the past and what actions were taken by police on them. If the actions were not taken, then what are the reasons for it? Who are those involved in purchasing the stolen coal and where such consignments are being further sold and whether any official or employee is involved in these cases are among other points of references of the probe,” the order said. Meanwhile, Korba superintendent of police (SP), Bhojram Patel on Thursday removed station house officers of Dipka Police station and Hardibazar Police Chowki (outpost) and shifted them to Korba police line.

“After the IG ordered a probe, I immediately removed the two station house officers of the concerned area so that they could not influence the probe,” said the SP on Friday.

Commenting on the video, Patel said that the police are still not clear where the video was shot.

“The video shows a vertical mine which is not found in Korba and if it is of Korba it is questionable how come such a large number of people entered into a mine which is mostly protected,” said the SP.

Meanwhile, former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader of Chhattisgarh, OP Chaudhary, who posted the video on Twitter on Wednesday, alleged that there could be an organised gang engaged in the coal theft and should be investigated properly. “There cannot be such a coal scam without the role of organised gangs at a large scale. The important people in the system should investigate this entire matter very seriously. They should go to the bottom of the matter and take strict action on everybody involved to be able to cleanse the whole system,” Chaudhary said.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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