An MLA from the ruling party has made a startling accusation that the police overlook instances of illegal sand excavation in Morena because they are "paid protection money" by the mining mafia.
Squarely blaming a 'police-illegal miners nexus' for the illegal mining in Morena, Satyapal Singh Sikarwar, a BJP MLA from the Sumaoli constituency of Morena district, said, "I should not say this at a time when an honest police constable, Dharmendra Singh Chouhan, lost his life to the sand mafia but it is true. Illegal miners enjoy the support of local police officers. Every police station in the district is in the payroll of the sand-and-stone mafia."
"Trucks and trollies laden with illegally mined sand pass by the police stations, but they make no effort to stop them. The mafia couldn’t have operated fearlessly for so many years without the support of the district administration, especially the police," he said, adding that they try to excuse themselves by saying that they are short of personnel to control the situation.
Denying the allegation, Morena superintendent of police Navneet Bhasin said, "Anybody can level allegations against the police without realising how much work we put in. This allegation is completely false. It was because of my good record that I was posted here again after two years to control the situation. When I was posted at Sidhi, I maintained transparency in my work and seized about 128 trucks laden with illegal mined sand. Similarly, in my last six months at Morena, we seized 28 trucks. But these are violent people, and the police face many challenges."
When asked to comment on the sand mining mafia paying protection money to police stations, Bhasin said: "I don’t know of any such activity. Nobody has lodged a formal complaint on such a nexus."
District forest officer Vincent Raheem also echoed his sentiments. "There is no such nexus here. The only problem is that the sand miners are warned in advance by villagers whenever the police take out a raid party," he said.
However, a local activist held a different take on the matter. "If there is no nexus between the mafia and the police, why has the state government removed the nine Special Armed Force companies that were deployed here in 2014 on the Madhya Pradesh high court’s orders?" he asked on the condition of anonymity.
The deceased constable's father-in-law, Puran Singh, also blamed the police for his death. "Illegal mining is taking place with active connivance of police personnel. We have lost our son due to this nexus between the police and sand mafia," he said.