The note may have come as a shock to the minister's office, but those associated with Bengal's coal trade have known and dealt with mafia extortion for decades now. And their patience is wearing thin. The state supplies an estimated 600 rakes, or 13.5 lakh tonnes, of coal worth Rs 300 crore a month.
According to the note signed by WBSCA secretary Dilip Pal, D Company is believed to have engaged select operators and traders to take care of the coal business. "For instance, Suresh Singh and Brijesh Singh, both with antecedents leading (sic) to Dawood and accused in many murder cases and also having CBI cases against them in Dhanbad and Uttar Pradesh, have set up a plush office in Kolkata (Essem Marketing (P) Limited, located at 1, British India Street)...(and) are demanding sums varying from Rs 250,000 to Rs 300,000 per rake.... In the event of such happening (sic), coal sale from Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) is bound to drop, giving impetus to the black market that is also controlled by this mafia."