BJP, Congress spar over audio clip alleging mining mafia-officials nexus in MP
Illegal sand mining has been a burning issue in Madhya Pradesh and allegations of official and political protection have often surfaced.Updated: Sep 24, 2020, 09:34 IST
A forest ranger in Madhya Pradesh was shifted after an audio clip, allegedly containing her conversation in which she is purportedly talking about providing protection to illegal mining in Shahdol district-- 592km east of Bhopal-- went viral, said a senior forest official.
According to the forest official, the audio is stated to be more than a year old. HT couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the audio clip.
However, Shahdol’s Gohparu forest range officer Pushpa Singh, who was shifted, called it a conspiracy against her.
In the audio the woman officer is heard saying “We always support you and never visited the mine. We shared information with you. But we do have a system and have to give … to the upper level in the area where mine was sanctioned.”
“The amount is divided among senior officers. Lower staff also expects some amount. We want you to make progress. Even, I have asked…… that all the nearby illegal mining is accessed by you so that you get more vehicles for (sand transportation). We discussed that and are following the same,” the officer purportedly says on the tape.
Chief conservator of forest (CCF), Shahdol division, Prabhat Kumar Verma ordered an inquiry into the matter and attached the forest ranger Pushpa Singh to Umaria forest range office till the completion of the inquiry.
“The district forest officer, Shadol (south) will conduct the inquiry. We were told that the voice in the audio is of range officer Pushpa Singh. We have sent the audio clip to a forensic laboratory for an examination. The miners, whose names are heard in the audio, too, will be called for questioning during the inquiry to know the truth,” said Verma.
Pushpa Singh has denied any truck with the sand minors.
“I don’t have any link with miners. The mine in Suntola was shut down about 10 months ago. The mine was legal and it was shut down on my recommendations as the miners started mining in the forest area. This is a fabricated audio and I don’t know who hatched this conspiracy and why.”
After the video went viral, the Opposition Congress attacked the BJP-led state government alleging a nexus between bureaucrats and illegal miners.
“Since the BJP has come to power, illegal mining is going on at a large scale across the state and we all know who are patronising the mining mafia,” said JP Dhanopia, spokesperson MP Congress committee.
BJP alleged that since the audio clip was more than a year old, it pertained to the state of affairs during the Congress rule.
“The Audio is stated to be more than a year old when the Congress was in power. Then some cabinet ministers themselves had raised the issue of illegal mining going on in the state. They raised accusing fingers against their own government,” said BJP state spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.