HT follow-up: Officials booked for plundering Sutlej basin | punjab$dont-miss | Hindustan Times
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HT follow-up: Officials booked for plundering Sutlej basin

punjab Updated: Jul 27, 2016 12:09 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Illegal mining

The Sutlej river basin, plundered over the years at Jodhwal and several other villages of Ludhiana district. (HT File Photo)

Finally, after two years of investigation into the plundering of the Jodhwal village common land in Ludhiana district, Punjab Vigilance Bureau has booked senior officials of different state departments among other people.

The FIR (first-information report) registered on July 18 names deputy director of industries Vishav Bandhu, block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Rana Pratap Singh, a retired mining officer, and two panchayat secretaries among the main accused. Ludhiana-based mining contractor Prashant Joshi and Jodhwal villager Virbhadra Singh are some of the accused related to the mining mafia.

The charges relate to corrupt practices and facilitating the mafia in plundering about 50 acres of the Sutlej river basin. A week after this FIR that alleges breach of trust by public servants and encroachment upon panchayat land among other things, the vigilance bureau is yet to arrest the accused, some of whom have retired.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rupinder Singh of the vigilance bureau’s economic offences wing in Ludhiana has his own reason for not arresting the accused. “The investigation is on,” he says. On the chances that the accused might get anticipatory bail in the absence of any action, so far, the SSP said the bureau would “get the court notice” in that eventuality.

Names missing

The FIR names only eight officers, though the special investigation team (SIT) had named more, including a few from the revenue and power departments. The FIR was based on the SIT report that mentioned forgery and misuse of the land-revenue record by everyone from ‘patwari’ to ‘tehsildar’. The vigilance bureau omitted the relevant sections as well as the names of these officials.

In his report filed on September 5, 2012, a senior vigilance official had accused these revenue officials of forging the sale deeds and mutations of the village common land. HT has all the preliminary inquiry reports. The SIT formed in September 2014 had worked a year on the case. Whistleblower Lakhveer Singh, a former panch of Jodhwal, had moved the complaint to the Ludhiana deputy commissioner as long ago as 2012. The mining mafia of his own village assaulted him in October that year.