Patna, Nov 19 (IANS) In the last five-six days, the sand mafia in Bihar has killed three persons including a Sub-Inspector of police and grievously injured two persons in Jamui district of the state.
Several other incidents of attacks on government officials and frequent supremacy wars in various districts reveal how these gangs of sand smugglers are running parallel governments in their respective areas of influence in Bihar.
After the ban on all liquor operations in Bihar, sand mining is one of the major sources of revenue for the state Government. It also allots contracts to companies for mining in various rivers to extract sand for construction purposes. In the light of this, strongmen in various regions acquire mining pockets in rivers like Sone, Ganga, Gandak, Kosi, Parman and many others.
As per the data of the mining department sand prospecting generated revenue to the tune of Rs 2,650 crore in 2022-23 but the officials claim that the sand business is worth over Rs 15,000 crore in Bihar. As a result, murders and wars for domination over this lucrative business frequently take place.
Since there is big money involved, a lot of politics also takes place on these issues, and every BJP leader in Bihar claims that the leaders of the RJD are involved in the business.
“The sand mafia is running a parallel economy in Bihar. I firmly believe that the size of the sand market is over Rs 25 lakh crore in the state and the maximum stake is owned by the mafia. They are politically connected and protection is directly given by Lalu Prasad’s family. Whenever, the RJD comes to power, the Mafia Raj becomes strong in Bihar,” said BJP Spokesperson Arvind Kumar Singh.
“The way the sand mafia is showing aggression, I firmly believe that these murders are taking place under the protection of state-owned agencies and political parties. The police are claiming that they are taking action against them still a number of murders, including that of police personnel, are taking place due to the war of supremacy between various gangs. The mafia is doing rampant mining in various rivers and the money generated from it will be used in the forthcoming elections,” Singh said.
However, the RJD refutes all allegations and says that the current government has actually come down hard on the mafiosi.
“After the formation of the Nitish-Tejashwi Government in Bihar, the ‘Mafia Raj’ in sand mining declined. If we compare the crime data during the current government’s tenure with that generated during the NDA Government’s rule when the BJP was part of it, the number of incidents was higher. I admit that some incidents have happened in Bihar of late but the police of respective districts acted swiftly against the offenders and arrested them.
"The allegations leveled by the BJP are completely baseless. There is no truth in it. They have become desperate ever since the Nitish-Tejashwi government has given lakhs of jobs to the people. They are clueless about how to react to it and hence they are leveling baseless allegations against us,” said Mritunjay Tiwari, the National Spokesperson of the RJD.
Bihar Police says that it regularly conducts raids and imposes fines on offenders. An official said that Bihar Police has arrested 2,439 sand smugglers since January this year and registered 4,435 FIRs for the various criminal offences of the mafiosi.
Over 20,000 vehicles were also seized either for not paying taxes for carrying sand or for other violations.
Bhojpur district is known for sand mining in Sone River as the sand of this river is in demand for construction purposes. As a result, the district police are always on their toes here.
Pramod Kumar, SP, Bhojpur said, “We have seized 18 trucks and tractors from the villages coming under Imadpur, Sikarhatta, Chauri and Tarari police stations. The mafia used to dig sand at night and transport it through tractors and trucks.”
As per the directives of the state government, mining was started this year from October 15 and soon supremacy wars started in Bhojpur, Aurangabad and Patna. Three persons who were said to be members of different gangs were killed by their rivals.
On November 17 a case of hit-and-run was reported from Jinhara Bazar on Kohbarwa-Jhajha road in the morning when a speeding truck laden with sand mowed down Sachin Turi (35), who was on the way to the local market, and sped away.
On November 15, two teenage boys were mowed down by a speeding truck laden with sand in the same district. One of them Aayush Kumar (18) died on the spot while his friend Rakesh Kumar was critically injured. The incident occurred at Dadpur-Kabar main road at Machindra Village under Jhajha police station in the district.
On November 14, SI Prabhat Ranjan was killed and Home Guard Constable Rajesh Kumar was seriously injured at Chanwar village under Garhi police station.
On November 2, sand smugglers attacked a team of the Mining Department, leaving one Constable injured.
On November 1, a speeding tractor laden with sand mowed down a Constable in Aurangabad. The list of crimes committed by the sand mafia is endless.
Despite sand mining being legal in Bihar, the state exchequer is losing revenue due to the ‘Mafia Raj.’ Keeping this in view, the Mining Department has made allotments of small clusters to legal bidders during auction and monitors digging and transportation through drones and CCTV cameras.
Besides, the state government has also set up check posts, Dharmkantas (Weighing machines) and challan counters at various places across Bihar to keep the mafia in check.