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Punjab ED raids | CM Channi terms them an attempt to target him, his ministers in poll season

Opposition parties have earlier linked Charanjit Singh Channi with the dealings of Bhupinder Singh alias Honey, which the former had denied.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that there was an attempt to put pressure and target him and his ministers as the polling day drew near, hours after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday raided multiple locations in the State as part of a money laundering probe against the "sand mafia" and companies linked to alleged illegal sand mining.

Premises linked to Mr. Channi's nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey , are also being covered under the ED raids.

"When there were polls in West Bengal, such attacks took place on Mamata Banerjee's relatives. Now, in the same pattern in Punjab, ED is trying to put pressure, give trouble. An attempt is being made to create all kinds of pressure," Mr. Channi alleged while interacting with reporters.

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"Not just on the ministers, Chief Minister, but pressure is being created on every Congress worker. Such an atmosphere is not good for democracy. When elections are near, they thought about conducting ED raids. But we are ready to bear all pressure, all troubles which they give. We will carry on with our electioneering and they will not succeed...," Mr. Channi said, hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre.

When asked how many places have been raided, Mr. Channi replied, "What I have heard so far is through TV (channels) and media, I don't have concrete information. But ultimately, it is an attempt to target me and my ministers." The ED action, sources said, has been initiated after taking cognisance of a 2018 FIR of the Punjab Police against some companies and individuals alleged to be involved in illegal sand mining in the State.

When asked to comment on this, Mr. Channi said, "In 2018, I was not Chief Minister. As you are saying it is based on 2018 FIR, what is my connection with that, at that time I was not even Chief Minister. But somehow or the other, they have to target me and my ministers and attempt to put pressure, but let me say this that Punjabis never come under pressure." Asked if he sees political vendetta behind the raids, Mr. Channi told reporters, "You know what all programmes happened during the past few days, and you and people know that very well...now this attempt to put pressure on me and the Punjab Congress will not succeed."

At least 10-12 locations in the State, including Chandigarh and Mohali, are being covered by the officials of the federal agency and the action is being undertaken under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Opposition parties have earlier linked Mr. Channi with the dealings of Bhupinder Singh alias Honey, which the former had denied.

Voting for 117 Assembly seats in Punjab is slated on February 20.

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Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal attacked his Punjab counterpart over illegal sand mining following the ED raids.

"We have been repeatedly saying that in his (Mr. Channi’s) Cabinet, there are people who are involved in illegal sand mining and Channi sahab himself is giving patronage to them," alleged Mr. Kejriwal whose AAP is among the main contenders in the Punjab polls.

"Why Mr. Channi sahab did not throw them out from the cabinet? Why did he keep them in the cabinet," the AAP leader had asked.

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Printable version | May 9, 2022 1:59:31 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-ed-raids-cm-channi-terms-them-an-attempt-to-target-him-his-ministers-in-poll-season/article38286335.ece