Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today condemned the murderous attack on two forest officials in Mohali by the sand mafia, saying attacks of government officials as well as large scale illegal sand mining were continuing unabated because the Congress government was patronizing the mafia and also hand in glove with it.In a statement here, the SAD president said the heinous attack on forest officials yesterday, who were trying to check illegal mining in Majri block in Mohali, proved that the State had descended into jungle raj.The sand mafia has become so bold that it is ready to murder government officials coming in the way of its illegal operations”.Stating that the Congress government was hand in glove with the sand mafia, Mr Badal said that this become clear in the run up to the Shahkot elections when the State shielded Congressman and party candidate Hardev Singh Laadi despite grave charges of illegal sand mining against him. “No action was taken despite videographic evidence against Laadi in the form of a sting. This gave a fillip to the samd mafia which is now looting and pillaging the natural resources of the State without any fear of retribution”.
The SAD president said with the Congress government refusing to rein in the mafia except for making empty noises and releasing videos of illegal mining from helicopters, the party would now approach Governor VP Singh Badnore and ask him to direct the State to take action against the sand mafia as well as rotten apples in its own government who are patronizing as well as running it from behind the scenes. “We will also demand an end to the goonda tax being enforced by the mafia on movement of sand mined illegally besides a concrete policy to reduce sand prices to end the anguish being faced by the common man on this issue”. He said the issue of the environmental damage being caused by illegal mining including changing the course of the Sutlej River at places as well as washing away cultivable land would also be submitted to the Governor in the form of a memorandum.Mr Badal said the Congress party’s greed to take over all sanding mining operations came to light immediately after formation of its government with then Irrigation and Power minister Rana Gurjit Singh acquiring sand mines in the name of his Nepalese cook and office staff. He said as many as 17 mines were bagged by family members and associates of Congress legislators on the basis of single bids which itself proved how the entire sanding mining auction process was vitiated by the Congress party.
The SAD president said this was not all. Various incidents of violence against government officials trying to stop illegal mining have been reported. He said this included a murderous attack on Mining department general manager T S Sekhon. He said the officer complained that the police did not act even after henchmen of the mining mafia associated with Congress mla Madan Lal Jalalpur thrashed him in full public view and tried to crush them under their tipper in Ghanaur.Stating that there were umpteen such cases, Mr Sukhbir Badal even where cases were registered for illegal mining after due inquiry, no action was taken because of the political shelter they enjoyed. He said this happened in the case of Balwinder Singh, an employee and front man of Congress Faridkot legislator Kushaldeep Dhillon. He said the power of the sand mafia was such that after chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted about illegal mining on the Satluj river bed in Nawansheher after a helicopter survey, no concrete action was taken on the matter.