DEHRI ON SONE, BIHAR, INDIA“You must be journalists? Are you interested in sand mining?”
We are in trouble.
It is the local muscle. There are four of them. Thick-armed, hooded-eyed men who have braked their white SUV to interrogate my walking partner, Siddharth Agarwal, and me at a dhaba, a roadside eatery in northern India. Our plastic table quakes from the passage of heavy trucks. What do these columns of vehicles carry? A torrent of mined sand: the dredged-up riverbeds of the Sindh River and its tributaries in destitute Madhya Pradesh state. Every truckload is bound for distant construction sites. Much of the cargo is illegal. Sand is a lucrative commodity in India. It fuels a black market that is both preyed on and protected by