BHOPAL: The sand mafia tried to kill an Indian Forest Service(IFS) officer in MP’s Chhattarpur district on Wednesday night, bringing back chilling memories of the murder of IPS officer N K Singh in March 2012.

Gangsters tried to crush Abhishek Tomar under a tractor, and when he dodged that, fired at him. Twenty-four hours after the murder bid, not a single attacker has been arrested. Singh was also run over by a tractor.

Tomar, who is posted as an SDO (forest) in Bijawar forest division, told TOI that he was on routine patrol when he came under attack. “I stopped a tractor trolley that was loaded with illegally mined sand. When I asked for documents, the driver couldn’t show any,” said Tomar.

This was not an isolated attack by the sand mafia

When I was still talking to the driver, some bikers arrived and started talking to him. One of them asked the driver to run me over with the tractor,” said Tomar. Before he could realize they were out to kill him, he saw the tractor hurtling towards him. “I jumped to the other side of the road. The tractor sped towards the village. I turned and gave chase. But they started firing at me,” Tomar said. Luckily, the bullets missed him.

The young forest officer called police, who identified the suspects and raided the house of one of them, seizing illegally mined sand and 40 teak logs. The accused were named as Raju Dhobi, Balraj Dhobi and Raja. A fourth suspect is yet to be identified. SP Vineet Khanna said, “No arrest has been made so far. We will get them soon.” All four have been booked for attempted murder.

Director of mining department, Vineet Austin, said, “After the new mining policy was declared, there is a transition phase as mines are still to be transferred to panchayats after environmental clearance. Such incidents are taking place wherever the mines are yet to be transferred.”

However, this is not an isolated attack. Last week in Chhatarpur, sand mafia tried to kill a tehsildar who stopped them from carrying out illegal mining in Urmil river. Policemen are routinely attacked. In December last year, sand mining gangsters fired over 100 rounds at a task force, and a constable was run over by a dumper and killed in April 2015. A year later, a forest guard was crushed to death under a sand-laden tractor in Gwalior.