Independent MLAs Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains were arrested on Friday for launching a “satyagraha” (agitation) against the sand mafia in Chuharwal village, 17 km from Ludhiana.
While Simarjit was arrested from Chuharwal, located on the banks of the Sutlej, his elder brother Balwinder was taken into custody from outside Hotel Nagpal Regency in Ludhiana. The Bains brothers had announced the satyagraha by their Team Insaaf from April 20, but they started it three days in advance.
Earlier this week, the Bains brothers started an anti-corruption helpline for people who wanted to share their grievances and were keen to join hands against corruption.
HAD PLANNED PRESS CONFERENCE
The police had no idea about the protest. While Balwinder was to hold a press conference at Hotel Nagpal Regency at 10.30am, Simarjit reached Chuharwal with his 500-odd supporters and started the protest against the illegal sand mining in the state. The sand mafia is also active in Chuharwal village.
MODUS OPERANDI OF SAND MAFIA
The independent MLA and his supporters loaded 10 tractor-trailers with sand to expose the modus operandi of the sand mafia. They wanted to show the people how the mafia excavates sand from the river and sells it in the market. They had also planned to provide sand free-of-cost to the area residents.
The police, after getting information about their plan, reached the spot and arrested Simarjit amid protest by his supporters, who were raising slogans against the state government and the sand mafia. Simarjit said they would continue their “satyagraha” after their release from the jail.
Additional deputy commissioner of police Satbir Singh Atwal confirmed the arrest of the independent MLAs. The police also arrested MC councillors Parminder Soma, Daljeet Singh Bhola and some other supporters of the Bains brothers.
When contacted, general manager of the district industries centre Mahesh Khanna said the sand mining was banned in Chuharwal village. Action is taken against those indulging in illegal mining, he said.
Earlier on April 11, the police had arrested the Bains brothers along with their supporters, including councillors, when they were going to make a human chain against the sand mafia in Ludhiana.
THE ILLEGAL ACT
Residents of nearby villages told HT that sand is loaded in tractor-trailers during the night. The sand contractors have employed persons from poor families for the illegal business. While 300-foot of sand in a tractor-trailer is sold at `6,000 in the market, the person who loads it and carries it to the market is paid only `1,000. Before the government imposed a ban on mining, 300-foot of sand used to cost around Rs 1,000, said a resident of Chuharwal village.
Amarinder slams govt
Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday condemned the “arbitrary” arrest of the Bains brothers. He said the Akali-BJP government was trying to stifle the voice of the opposition. In a statement issued here, Amarinder said: “Instead of taking a serious note of the issues being raised by the MLAs and talking to them, the police have arrested them.”