Sub-Divisional Magistrate, a police officer were fired upon in Panna district

After the alleged murder of IPS officer Narendra Kumar in Madhya Pradesh's Morena district by the mining mafia on Thursday and the attack on another IPS officer by liquor mafia the same day, government officials in Panna district came under attack on Saturday from the sand mining mafia while probing illegal mining.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) N.A. Gaud, along with a Sub-divisional Officer of Police (SDOP), were fired upon by persons involved in illegal sand mining in the Chandipati village, Ajaygarh block, of Panna district.

While the officials escaped unharmed, they suspected the hand of former dacoit Kuber Singh, who illegally quarries sand to cross-border areas in Uttar Pradesh, in the attack.

This is the third such attack on government officials by organised criminals in Madhya Pradesh within a week.

On Thursday, IPS officer Narendra Kumar was allegedly murdered by the mining mafia active in the Chambal region. On the same day, another IPS officer Jaidevan was attacked by goons associated with the liquor mafia.

The goons, alleged supporters of former BJP MLA Narendra Singh, attacked the officer when he tried to stop the sale of liquor on Holi day, observed as an official dry day in Madhya Pradesh.

The events of the week have turned the spotlight on the rampant illegal mining in the State, with the Opposition Congress alleging the direct involvement of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, along with almost his entire Cabinet.

Judicial enquiry sought

“We demand an independent judicial enquiry into illegal mining, including the ten years of the Congress government, led by me. Only that will bring out the truth,” AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh told The Hindu.

“We do not have faith in the State Lokayukta, who was appointed by the CM when the CM himself was being investigated by the Lokayukta in the dumper scam. The appointment was a quid pro quo for letting Mr. Chauhan and his wife go scot free in the scam, which eventually happened when the Lokayukta police filed its closure report,” Mr. Singh alleged.

Mr. Singh also pointed out the “mutually beneficial” relationship of the Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments.

“It is also obvious that the Raman Singh-led BJP government in Chhattisgarh is in cohoots with the Madhya Pradesh government and both are scratching each other's backs,” he alleged.

Following Narendra Kumar's murder on Thursday, the police initially claimed that “prima facie it appeared the mining mafia were behind the incident.” However, within 24 hours, the police denied having ever made that link.

Talking to The Hindu, Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police Nandan Dube categorically denied the role of mining mafia in the incident.

However, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president Kantilal Bhuria and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Ajay Singh claim otherwise.

“This government has managed to do in eight years what did not happen in 60 years. The mafia have no fear of the law anymore and the government has lost all moral right to continue in power,” said Mr. Singh.

“The CM's secretary is also the Secretary of mining and the chairperson of Mining Corporation so everything goes on smoothly and if any officer tries to raise the issue, he or she is transferred,” he said.

Mr. Bhuria alleged the involvement of BJP leaders in illegal mining.

“On Tuesday, some policemen were attacked by goons of the mining mafia. A case was also registered but BJP MP Narendra Singh Tomar intervened and hushed up the matter,” Mr. Bhuria told reporters at Indira Bhawan on Friday.

A delegation of the State Congress will be meeting Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to bring the matter to his notice.

The State government's response has been quirky. While Chief Minister has ordered a judicial probe into the killing of the IPS officer, Home Minister Umashankar Gupta has refuted all allegations of the State government's complicity with the mining mafia and turned the tide in the government's favour.

“It was because of the government's tough stand against the mining mafia that made them react in such a way. The government has asked the police to go hard against the mafia and Narendra Kumar paid for his life by doing his duty honestly,” Mr. Gupta told journalists on Thursday.