Extortion in the sand-and-gravel mining business came to light during an assault case hearing in a Rupnagar district court recently when the two victims stated they were “royalty collectors” for Youth Congress leader Barinder Singh and had been attacked at work.
Even though the attempt-to-murder case registered after a scuffle between the locals and the “royalty” collectors” at Nangal was disposed of for want of evidence, the Rupnagar police have a new task — to investigate this extortion in the name of “royalty collection”, to which the witnesses Ravi Kumar and Amarjit Singh have alluded.
Lawyer Dinesh Chadha, a Right to Information (RTI) activist, now has written to the Rupnagar senior superintendent of police (SSP) to demand a case of cheating and extortion against the two men and their employer (the mining contractor), taking a cue from their statements that locals and tipper drivers roughed them up for collecting “royalty” from the latter. Referring to the statement recorded in the court on August 7, Chadha wrote in the complaint that Ravi Kumar had admitted to “royalty collection” on the night intervening March 21 and 22 and that every slip issued against the “royalty paid” carried the registration number of the vehicles carrying the consignment.
“The matter is under investigation at the level of SP (detective),” SSP Varinderpal Singh told HT, adding that he would go by its report.
Congressman running extortion racket?
Chandigarh: Belying the opposition Congress claim that it is the Akalis who patronise the mining mafia in Punjab, Ravi Kumar, man who accepted collecting “royalty” from sand-tipper drivers, named Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha area’s Youth Congress president Barinder Singh as his employer.
Barinder Singh, when confronted, acknowledged that he was the legal contractor of Rupnagar district’s Dayapur sand quarry that was auctioned two years ago for a reserved price of `35 lakh; but said he had “never employed anyone for any royalty collection”. “There is no evidence that I employed these two men,” he said.
He claimed to be in heavy losses, unable to run the quarry for the past many months “because of the local mafia” and being targeted for being a Congressman. In the challan (charge sheet) filed in the court, the police put him down as employer of “royalty collector” Amarjit.
The challan (HT has a copy), contains Barinder’s statement recorded under Section 161 (examination of witnesses by police) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that he had employed Amarjit Singh and he also held the mining contract for two other quarries, besides Dayapur. Assistant sub-inspector Ravinder Singh prepared the challan at Nangal on August 10. Barinder even denied that it mentioned his name.