Assembly poll: Opposition tries to corner Punjab CM Channi over illegal sand mining

Charanjit Singh Channi

Charanjit Singh Channi

As Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi played the victim card in connection with the recent raids by the Enforcement Directorate in the State, the Opposition parties have upped the ante against him, dismissed Mr. Channi’s denial of involvement in illegal sand mining as a “lie”.

Hitting out at Mr. Channi, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former Minister Bikram Singh Majithia alleged that the illegal sand mining racket was flourishing in the State as it was being patronised by the Chief Minister.

At a press conference, Mr. Majithia released purported audio recordings of what he termed as a conversation between the Chief Minister’s close aide and his son surrounding an “illegal sand mining operation” requiring an impartial probe.

Mr. Majithia alleged that even the Congress’s central leadership was privy to the racket and therefore they were trying to save Mr. Channi by asserting that he was being victimised. Mr. Majithia displayed pictures of Bhupinder Singh, alias Honey, nephew of Mr. Channi, whose residence the ED had raided, to show his proximity to Mr. Channi. He alleged that Mr. Singh was even given commandos and an escort vehicle. He claimed that Mr. Singh was using a vehicle with an MLA sticker pasted on it.

With the Chief Minister also holding charge of the mining and environment departments this was a case of conflict of interest and Mr. Channi did not have any moral right to continue in office, Mr. Majithia added.

Former Chief Minister and head of Punjab Lok Congress Captain Amarinder Singh (retd.) said Mr. Channi’s denial of involvement in illegal sand mining was a complete lie, and that he, as the Chief Minister, had received specific inputs that Mr. Channi had a share in the mafia, along with several other Congress leaders and MLAs in Punjab.

“From top to bottom, right up to the level of senior Ministers, many people were involved, as I had told Sonia Gandhi while I was Chief Minister. She asked me what action I was taking in the matter, and I told her I will have to start from the top. The one and only mistake I made during my entire tenure was that I did not take any action then, out of my sense of loyalty to the Congress, since I did not get a go-ahead from Sonia,” said Capt. Amarinder.

Mr. Channi has been dismissing the charges levelled against him and accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of attempting to target him ahead of the upcoming election and ‘frame’ him by misusing Central agencies.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 1:22:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-assembly/assembly-poll-opposition-tries-to-corner-punjab-cm-channi-over-illegal-sand-mining/article38310215.ece