Officials at the residence of L.K. Advani recently received a two-page note from a little-known body called the West Bengal Small Consumers Association (WBSCA). It plaintively sought the home minister's intervention to save the state's coal consumers from the stranglehold of the mafia, which it alleged was now controlled by the dreaded Dawood Ibrahim.
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.