Dhenkanal: With an aggressive district administration tightening its noose around stone mafias in Dhenkanal, the smugglers are creatively using technology to evade administrative action and arrest.
According to a source in the district administration, the stone mafias have created a WhatsApp group. Some members of this group have been entrusted with the job of passing every detail of police and other administrative officials’ movement in the group.
The informants keep a track of official vehicle movement and tip the group of crucial information such as the registration number of the vehicle, the route it is taking and even how far they are from the stone quarries in the groups.
This way, the mafias at the mines get alerted before the officials reach the spot and manage to escape arrest.
During a recent raid conducted September 8, a member of this group was nabbed and his mobile phone was seized. While scanning his mobile phone, it was learnt that the member had passed on information to other members in the group about a particular Bolero through voice message and chat. The Bolero vehicle was used by officials engaged in carrying out raids on illegal stone quarries on that particular date.
Later, tehsildar Sagarika Sahu lodged an FIR at Motanga police station in this regard, and also deposited the seized mobile phone. She has also informed the district collector and SP in written in this context.
On basis of the tehsildar’s complaint, the cops have registered a case (case No-190/20).
The stone mafias are active in Ranibania under Odapada tehsil and in several areas under Gandia tehsil. In Gandia tehsil, stones are being illegally transported to jungles by engaging 60 to 70 trucks daily in Asanbahali and Tolerposi area under Nihalprasad police limits.
That said, the administration has intensified raids at stone queries since the fact of WhatsApp being used by the mafia came to fore.
Notably, five stone-laden tippers were seized during a raid at the illegal stone mine in Ranibania area Saturday. Following the direction of district collector Bhumesh Chandra Behera, a team led by sub-collector Saphalya Mandit Pradhan and comprising of tehsildar Sagarika Sahu and officials of revenue department and police department carried out the raid.
When contacted, the sub-collector said that the stone mafias have created a WhatsApp group in the name of Maa Ramachandi Group. They are keeping a watch on the movement of administrative officials. Despite this, the raids are going on.
Similarly, Motanga IIC Sarojini Sambad said they have registered a case on the basis of the tehsildar’s report. Their investigation is going on and a manhunt has been launched to nab the absconding mafias.