Coal mafia rears head in Dhanbad with displays of violence, challenges administration

The ‘Gangs of Dhanbad’ are once again disrupting peace and tranquillity along the coal belt of Jharkhand, notorious once for violence, through use of firearms, bomb blasts and incidents of arson.

Recently, the gangsters, waving weapons, released a video in which they openly challenged the local police. They also entered a police station and physically assaulted some officials.

There is no let-up in violence in areas like Wasseypur, Jharia, Katras, Dhanbad and Baghmara either. These gangsters are mostly coal mafias who extort ‘gunda tax’.

On Thursday, two groups clashed over illegal coal trade in Akashkinari village of Chhatabad under Katras police station and fired several rounds at each other. Five people, including a woman, were injured.

Following the clash, locals living near the site of violence, protested in front of the Katras police station, post which, four-five criminals were detained.

There have incidents of violence throughout this month, and even last month.

On April 20, four bike-borne gangsters attacked the car of Ravikant Hazari alias Babu Hazari, a coal trader in Katras, at 5 p.m. near Bank Mod, the busiest area here. They also robbed Rs 2.5 lakh from his car and tried to kill him, but fled the scene as soon as some pedestrians came to his rescue.

Two days back, gunfire and blasts were reported from a closed quarry near Pokharia in Madhuban Colliery under Kharkhari OP, where illicit mining of coal was underway. On the next day, a group of locals set ablaze a JCB machine that was being used in illegal coal mining. A total of 10 people have been named as accused from both sides and one has been arrested under cases of assault, firing and bombings.

On April 12, two bombs were hurled at the house of rail scrap dealer Tufail Ahmed alias Pappu Khan, resident of Bhaga Station Road under Jharia police station area. A death threat was also sent to extort money from him.

On April 11, goons fired at Deepak Sen’s house in Shalimar under Jorapokhar police station here.

On the evening of April 2, a contractor Bablu Singh was riddled with bullets over business rivalry, near Bhaga Railway of Jorapokhar police station area.

However, the police later arrested three people in this matter. Before this, on March 28, there was a shoot-out at a tyre showroom in Bank Mod. However, the showroom owner, Gul Mohammad’s brother and staff narrowly escaped the conflict.

On March 27, businessman Mukesh Pandit, resident of Damodarpur in Sadar police station area, was shot dead and the next day, the criminals stormed the Bhuli B block power house and took the electricians hostage. After this, brass coils of transformers, worth lakhs, were looted.

In November 2021, a businessman named Nanhe Khan was killed by the henchmen of a gangster, Prince Khan. After this, he took responsibility of the incident by releasing the video of him playing billiards and challenging the Senior Superintendent of Police.

Previously, he had threatened a person named Israfil alias Lala Khan in Talibani style and had threatened to kill him.

In this matter, SSP Sanjeev Kumar had said: “Prince is finding hard to make ends meet and therefore wants to create panic by releasing such videos. The weapon he has is a toy gun.”

However, responding to the official’s claims, Prince Khan made another video saying: “I’m playing billiards here. SSP is giving childish statements to hide his incompetence.”

Prior to this, Prince has also tried to extort money from a BCCL officer, Railways and Municipal Corporation contractors and other businessmen through threat videos.

There is conflict between two popular gangsters in Wasseypur – Faheem Khan and Prince Khan. Last year, two murders took place between the two gangs.

Acording to Dhanbad MLA Raj Sinha, the law and order system of Dhanbad has collapsed. MP P.N. Singh said the local police has failed. However, Sanjeev Kumar said that continuous action is being taken against the criminals. Most of the cases have been solved and the accused arrested.

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