The information about the coal mafia cannot be written in just one article. As time passes, I will contribute more articles on it under the template the “Dark Alleys”. Some names have been changed on request of anonymity. For those who are new to this topic, I suggest you to watch Gangs of Wasseypur to know more.

“For the engineer, this is coal. For the schoolchildren, this is coal. But here, in Jharkhand, this is gold. Black gold!” X, a worker remarks.

In 1910, the British stumbled upon an area in Chotanagpur plateau that held high-quality coal. So much, that people who owned this up became rich. The city was named as Dhanbad. In 1947, when the British left India, they transferred the ownership of these collieries to Indian industrialists including the Tatas. The industrialists flourished while the workers toiled in the coal mines without any improvements. This was present not only in Dhanbad, but also in Jharia, Chasnala and several other mines throughout the state. To make the workers able to exercise some powers, some junior colliery owners decided to set-up trade unions.

These trade unions were not for the worker’s benefit, at all. Instead, they served as the first extortion attempts by the rising mafia. The unions required an Rs 50 fee every month to pay for the “security”. Many union leaders profited from this extortion to become mafia dons.  One of the first trade unionists-turned mafia dons was B.P. Sinha.

B.P. Sinha not only controlled the trade unions, but he also attacked those who chose to ignore him or undermine him. He was known as the Godfather of the coal mafia.  He also made a syndicate that would take care of the trade union if he was not there. One of the men in the syndicate included Suraj Deo Singh, whose character is portrayed by Tigmanshu Dhulia as Ramadhir Singh.

Suraj Deo was close to both Jayaprakash Narayan and Chandra Shekhar. After the Janata Party won the post-emergency Lok Sabha polls, Wasseypur locality merged with Dhanbad with B.P. controlling both the cities. A part of the syndicate was not happy with this and Suraj Deo Singh led this rebellion by murdering B.P. in 1978 to become the undisputed mafia head.

More in my next article!