A clash among the mining mafia at Dhurewal village near Machhiwara in Ludhiana district has claimed a life. The fight was not for control over a quarry but the fallout of a group extorting money from those carrying the illegal consignment of sand.
Police have seized an SUV without a number plate from the site and registered a case under section 306 (abetment to suicide) for the death of a man who got drowned in the Sutlej while running for cover.
The deceased, Gurjeet Singh of Machhiwara, was a member of a team of three travelling in the SUV. They had stopped the other party carrying sand in a tractor trolley, inviting an assault by the miners for demanding 'royalty' (extortion money).
The incident that led to the arrest of the three who attacked Gurjeet and his two associates is a glaring example of the extortionists playing a role during night hours.
The body of the drowned man was not yet recovered, the Machhiwara police said on Wednesday.
Citing the incident as a clash between the two rival groups over sand mining, the villagers of Dhurewal contest Section 306 of the IPC imposed on the accused, who hails from the village.
'Royalty' gives safe passage
Those into illegal mining are thankful to the system of 'royalty' that they pay on a regular basis at different 'check-points'.
And those into the 'royalty' business during night stop sand tippers at various locations to collect Rs 300 per 100 square feet. A tipper has a maximum capacity of 1,000 square feet of sand, which means each of these vehicles shell out Rs 3,000 in 'royalty'.
The mining wing of the industries department has check-points at specific spots. But all such spots -- Ghanauli, Sarsa Nangal, Alowal, Bharatgarh, Agampur, Khanpur Khui on the Nangal-Anandpur Sahib-Rupnagar highway were unmanned.
Those present at these checkpoints refused to talk, pointing out that they were not from the mining department.
The words 'excise contractor' were inscribed in bold on the rear wind shield of a jeep that was parked at the Sarsa Nangal crusher site.
"The vehicle belongs to a contractor," said one of the five people sitting in a hutment installed at the entry point of the Sarsa Nangal crusher site. The contractor was, however, missing and nobody would talk further.