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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Finally, FIR over collection of ‘goonda tax’ on sand and gravel supply at Bathinda refinery

Acting on complaint by construction-related firm owner who wrote to CM, police book sarpanch on intimidation charge

punjab Updated: Feb 27, 2018 09:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
A ‘goonda tax’ naka on Rama Road, Bathinda, earlier this month.
A ‘goonda tax’ naka on Rama Road, Bathinda, earlier this month.(HT File)

Weeks after a row erupted over alleged continued collection of “goonda tax” on supply of sand and gravel for projects at Guru Gobind Singh Refinery here, police on Monday registered a first-information report (FIR) against a village sarpanch. 

Acting on a complaint by Ashok Bansal, who runs a ready-mix concrete plant at the refinery, Ramandeep Singh alias Happy Sidhu, sarpanch of Bangi village, who is alleged to have relations with leaders of both the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal, under sections 451 (trespass) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Coe (IPC). 

Bansal had in a letter to the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court and the chief minister, had alleged that on February 20 Ramandeep Singh came to his firm’s office outside the refinery and threatened him “that no raw material can be moved to refinery without his involvement”. He also claimed to have audio recording of the conversation. The letter of February was addressed also to Congress president Rahul Gandhi. 

 “Two other companies, Sam India and Northern Logistic (P) Limited, have also submitted complaints to state government and district administration. I have also given an audio clip as proof to Bathinda DC. As per the audio clip mining mafia is under direct control of political leaders and even CM house,” read the complaint letter.

Rama police station house officer Sanjeev Kumar said, “Bansal also recorded his statement at the police station.”

The issue of “goonda tax” being collected from transporters in the refinery had gathered limelight early this month. This had resulted in shortage of construction material in the refinery, especially for the ongoing work on setting up a petrochemical unit. The state government, however, claims that the menace has been stopped now after allegedly flourishing in the SAD-BJP regime. Punjab finance minister and Bathinda MLA Manpreet Singh Badal last week had said that menace has been curbed.

First Published: Feb 27, 2018 09:49 IST