In a blow to Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s government, senior cabinet minister Babu Bokhiria has been convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment in a Rs 54-crore illegal mining case.
A local court in Porbandar on Saturday sentenced Bokhiria, two of his close relatives and former Porbandar MP Bharat Odedara, for carrying out limestone mining in Gujrat.
Following the verdict, Bokhiria was arrested but released on bail to file an appeal. He, however, is yet to resign from the state cabinet. State government spokespersons Nitin Patel and Saurabh Patel were not available for comment on Bokhiria’s fate.
“For the first time a senior cabinet minister has been sentenced for illegal mining in Gujarat. If the Modi government has any morality left, it must sack the minister,” said Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil.
In 2006-07, Porbandar district administration had unearthed a mining racket involving several firms including Bokhiria’s, which had carried out illegal lime stone mining and had evaded the government royalty to the tune of more than R100 crore.
The administration had filed several cases, this being the first in which the accused are convicted.
After the district administration’s drive, the Modi government had transferred the then Porbandar collector HN Chhibber, who had launched the drive against limestone mining.