Chhattisgarh Police arrest diamond smuggler, seize 171 diamonds
Police have seized 171 pieces of rough diamonds worth around Rs 25 lakh from a smuggler in Chhattisgarh’s Gariaband district.
Police said that the smuggler is part of an interstate gang working in the area and more arrests are likely.
Police said though the smuggler, who belongs to neighbouring Odisha, was arrested, the other accused managed to escape.
“We were keeping a tab on this gang for the last 10 days. The accused Nutan Patel (55) along with another smuggler was trying to sell these diamonds in the market. One of the policemen posed as a trader and laid a trap for him. Patel was arrested on Saturday evening near Kaitpadar village under the jurisdiction of Deobhog police station,” said Bhojram Patel, superintendent of police (SP), Gariaband.
Patel was heading towards Odisha’s Nuapada district from Payalikhand, a diamond-rich belt in Gariaband, with a huge quantity of rough diamonds.
Preliminary investigation has revealed that he had illegally brought the diamonds from Payalikhand area of the district and was going to sell them in Odisha.
“In the last five months, four diamond smugglers in the district were arrested with 340 pieces of rough diamonds in three separate cases,” he said.
The SP said that rough diamonds are found in mines in Deobhog and some people are engaged in illegal mining of the precious gemstones.
“Some people are engaged in illegal mining of diamonds. Inter-state gangs engage labourers and locals for mining rough diamonds. Patel had also engaged some people for the mining of diamonds,” said the SP. The police official said the diamond smugglers operate through a network that spans across states in the country.
“There are some inter-state smugglers. We have some leads as a follow-up investigation,” the SP said.
“The area, where diamonds are found, is not given to any private company for mining operations. The land belongs to the state government. However, the terrain is hostile, which helps the smugglers to operate,” he added.
Activists in Chhattisgarh claimed that diamond mining in the state has been marred in several legal battles since the 1990s.
“The then Digvijay Singh-led government had sanctioned some permits to a private company but it was challenged by other parties. Chhattisgarh has been endowed with not only diamond, which is found in Devbhog area of Gariaband district, but also some other precious gemstones such as Alexandrite and Corundum,” said Sudeip Shrivastava, an activist and lawyer.
Shrivastva said that the tribals are aware of presence of precious gemstones in certain areas of Devbhog region where Kimberlite, an igneous rock, is commonplace.
“The traders in Chhattisgarh and adjoining Odisha have been buying these raw stones at throwaway prices. Besides, one in every 50-100 stones could prove to be a diamond that fetches a handsome sum,” he added.