NEW DELHI: The CBI on Saturday carried out a massive search operation at 45 locations in four states after registering a case against alleged coal pilferer Anup Manjhi who was suspected to be acting in collusion with two general managers and three security personnel of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), officials said.
The searches were spread across West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, they said.
The CBI registered the case on Friday against Manjhi, ECL General Managers Amit Kumar Dhar (of then Kunustoria area now Pandaveswar area) and Jayesh Chandra Rai (Kajor area) besides ECL Chief of Security Tanmay Das, Area Security Inspector, Kunustoria Dhananjay Rai and SSI and security in-charge Kajor area Debashish Mukherjee.
It is alleged that accused Anup Manjhi alias Lala is involved in the illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, they said.
The CBI acted on information from "reliable sources" indicating illegal excavation and theft of coal in the leasehold area of ECL in "connivance" with the officials of ECL, CISF and Railways.
The vigilance department of the ECL and its Task Force had also noticed illegal mining from May 2020 and onwards with the help of large excavation machines and vehicles for transportation that were seized by the team.
"Several instances of installation of illegal weighbridges in concrete form were also detected which confirms illegal coal mining and transportation from ECL areas in an organised manner at a very large scale.
"It is further revealed by the source that illegal mining is going on at the leasehold area of ECL behind Topsi village under Kunustoria Area and at Lachhipur Village under Kajora Area by the coal mafias in active connivance with officials of ECL and those of CISF," the CBI alleged in its FIR.
The departmental raids on August 7, 2020 led to the recovery of over nine MT of stolen coal from the Railway siding of the Pandaveswar area.
Similar recoveries were also made from other locations too.
"It is learnt that this illegal activity is being run at Railway sidings by the criminals with the active connivance of unknown Railway officials," the agency alleged.
The CBI has alleged Anup Manjhi alias Lala is the kingpin of most of the coal pilferage in the area arising out of illegal mining.
The Standard Operating Procedure for Action Plan Illegal Mining and coal theft of CIL dated August 08, 2020, issued a day after raids by ECL teams, stated that the main role of all the raids and actions to be taken is of the Area Security Officer, Area Security In-Charge, Area Authorities under the respective Chief of Security ECL and under Area General Managers".
It appears that illegal coal mining in the ECL leasehold area is going on along with theft of coal from Railway sidings in an organised manner, the CBI said.
It alleged that the accused officials and security officers of ECL and CISF, in connivance with unidentified Railways officials, allowed Anup Maji alias Lala to misappropriate the national property entrusted to them, committing criminal breach of trust.
Meanwhile, ECL sources said a security official of the company died on Saturday after "falling ill" during a search operation by the CBI at his residence.
Dhananjay Roy, the security inspector of the state-run firm in the Kunustoria area in West Bengal's Pashchim Bardhaman district was taken ill when the search operation was underway, they said.
He was rushed to a hospital where he died, the sources said.