Two FIRs were lodged against Gopal Narayan Singh, former president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Bihar unit, and others following a crackdown by the economic offences wing (EOW) on illegal mining in protected forest areas of Rohtas district on Tuesday.
The EOW team from Patna, led by its superintendent of police (SP) Ashok Kumar, conducted raids on illegal mines at Amara, Amari, Basa and Fazilpur protected forest areas. Divisional forest officer S Chandrashekhar and a mining officer also accompanied the team.
Sources said police or administrative officers of the district were not given prior information about the raids, apparently to keep the mission a secret. During raids, however, Rohtas police, led by SP Manu Maharaj, joined the EOW team.
Kumar said five JCB, 30 tractors, five exploders, five compressor-cum-drilling machines, 400 detonators and 250kg of highly explosive ammonium nitrate--kept in five bagsand used in illegal mining-were recovered during raids, said Kumar.
Six persons, including police constable Dharmendra Ram, were from mining sites, he said. The arrested constable had helped the mining mafia in taking away two of the seized JCBs, Kumar said, adding that Ram was arrested and the machines were recovered after a chase.
The constable was the bodyguard of the former Bihar BJP chief, a police officer said on the condition of anonymity.
Goons of mining mafia also pelted stones at the EOW team at Barhaiyabagh, but they were chased away and the raids continued, Kumar said. The vehicle of forest range officer was damaged and two police personnel were injured in the attack.
The arrested persons revealed that Gopal Narayan Singh, Kanhaiya Singh, Indal Singh, Gobardhan Singh, Chhotu Chaudhary and Rinku Yadav were involved in illegal mining, he said.
Two FIRs: one under the under mining and forest Act and the other for attack on the raiding party and for trying to take away lawfully seized vehicles, were lodged against them with Sasaram Mufassil police station, the SP said.
It is worth mentioning that Maharaj had escaped an attack on his life when he launched raids on illegal mines in Basa protected forests on February 26 this year.
Police had arrested 52 persons and seized 40 heavy vehicles, machines and tractors and huge quantity of high grade explosives, detonators, compressors, exploders and other equipments. Three FIRs were then lodged against Gopal Narayan Singh and others.
Again in June, after getting information of large-scale mining through air surveillance, the state police headquarters had directed for a crackdown. The police, led by Maharaj, raided the illegal mines and recovered 10 machines besides huge quantity of explosives.
But the large scale mining in protected forests continued in collusion with the local police, administrative and mining department officials, sources said.