Independent MLAs from Ludhiana Simarjit Singh Bains and his brother Balwinder Singh Bains, along with 30 of their supporters, were arrested on Thursday after they launched their 'satyagraha' (agitation) against illegal sand mining at Rail Bramad Khud on the Sutlej riverbed near here.
This is the second mining site where the Bains brothers have started a stir against the sand mafia under the banner of 'Team Insaaf'. Earlier, they had done it at Chuharwal village in Ludhiana district on April 17, following which the duo was arrested.
The MLAs had convened a press conference at 11.30am at a local hotel, where Balwinder was present. Police had made security arrangements around the hotel.
Meanwhile, Simarjit reached Rail Bramad Khud with hundreds of his supporters and started a protest against illegal sand mining in Punjab. Later, Balwinder joined them. The Bains brothers and their men started digging up the sand and loading it into a Mahindra pick-up vehicle.
After some time, a heavy police force led by superintendent of police (SP, investigation) Harmeet Singh Hundal and deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) Harbir Singh Atwal and Dr Sandeep Garg reached there. Later, Nawanshahr SP Dilbag Singh and Balachaur DSP Digvijay Kapil also arrived.
As the protesters tried to take the vehicle laden with sand away from the site, cops stopped them and arrested Simarjit and Balwinder, along with 30 supporters, including three councillors.
A case was registered against them at Kathgarh police station under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 379 (theft), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 506 (criminal intimidation),148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 21 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and. Regulation) Act.
Earlier, talking to mediapersons, Simarjit alleged that mining was legally allowed on 11.45 acres of Rail Bramad Khud. However, illegal mining was taking place on hundreds of acres in the area, he said.
He claimed that the mining policy was being flouted with impunity in the area by using heavy machines such as JCBs for digging up sand and tippers for transportation of sand, adding that as per the policy, mining was allowed only with implements such as spades.
Simarjit alleged that the ruling Badals' favourites were indulging in illegal mining on the land of local residents, adding that people had made many complaints to the administration, police and mining officials in this regard, but no action had been taken to stop the malpractice.
The Independent MLA said a multi-crore sand and gravel mining scam was taking place in Punjab under the Badals' patronage.
He said the main objective of their 'satyagraha' was to make people aware of the scam and stop illegal mining across the state.
He said 'Team Insaaf' members would continue such an agitation against the sand mafia in 12 other districts where illegal mining was going on, even if they had to go to jail repeatedly.