They crush stones and are powerful enough to do the same to voices of dissent.
As the stone crusher owners continue to plunder the ecology of Mukerian area in Hajipur block of Hoshiarpur district, the police have arrested an activist who had been fighting a battle against the mining mafia.
Dharminder Singh of Naushera Simble village was arrested on July 3 in a case related to a clash that took place in September last year between villagers opposed to the mining and henchmen of stone-crushers’ owners.
The FIR in this case was registered on September 15, 2015, and the police added Section 326 (voluntarily causing serious injuries by means of weapon) on March 19, 2016.
The original FIR was registered under Sections 323/324 (causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 506 (intimidation), 148 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful presence at a site) of the Indian Penal Code.
Hajipur station house officer Surinder Kumar said Section 326 was added on the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court after the complainants (crusher owners) approached the court.
Hindustan Times had reported in September last year how Dharminder was roughed up by the henchmen of mining mafia, leading to the clash and villagers chasing away the owners of stone crushers and their men.
“We came to know about the addition Section 326 months later through some documents related to the illegal mining cases,” said Deepak Thakur, a member of Pind Bachao Saanjhi Sangharsh Committee that spearheads the movement against the illegal mining.
Dharminder and Deepak have been lodging complaints against the mining mafia and taking up the issue with the administration from time to time.
Passing the buck
Mukerian sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Harcharan Singh acknowledged the illegal stone crushing in the area, but put the onus of inaction on the police and the mining wing of the industries department.
“It is the duty of the general manager, mining, to act with the help of the police,” the SDM said, when asked why none of the crushers had so far been sealed.
Hoshiarpur district’s GM (mining) Subhash Kumar evaded a reply on the illegal stone crushing in the area. “We are looking into the matter. We have a meeting with the pollution control board officials on Tuesday,” he said.
With no approved quarry around, JCB machines are digging the pits deeper near Dhamiya and Wazira villages, 12 km from Mukerian, in the Hajipur block of Hoshiarpur district. At some points, the pits are as deep as 150 feet, posing a cave-in threat to the adjoining maize fields.
The fleet of trucks that comes for the fill take the raw material to the stone crushers in the area. Some crushers are illegal and others have permission to crush only stones coming from Jammu and Kashmir.
Cases were registered against some illegal stone-crushing units in the last one year, but that was it.