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Illegal sand mining: With 1 conviction in 4 years, its business as usual in Mohali

Even as the administration claim to have taken stern measures, tardy probe and poor conviction — only one in around 165 cases in four years — has allowed the mining mafia to carry on its business unabated.

punjab Updated: Jun 21, 2018 11:04 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Illegal sand mining,Mohali,mining mafia
Even as police probe has not established it yet, many locals allege the sand mafia has political backing.(HT File)

The attack on five forest officials that left two critically hurt in Majri block of Mohali late on Monday night has once again put the spotlight on rampant sand mining going on in the district.

Even as the administration claim to have taken stern measures, tardy probe and poor conviction — only one in around 165 cases in four years — has allowed the mining mafia to carry on its business unabated.

In many cases, the accused remain “unidentified” and even farmers who leased out their land for levelling have been named.

“When did court last convict anyone for illegal mining? It boosts morale of the mining mafia. No one comes forward as a witness and the cases are not registered against the kingpin,” said Dilpreet, a resident of Salempur Khurd village in Kurali.

Scapegoats

Police do set up checkposts, but are still found wanting.

“If the government is committed to curb illegal mining, it has to put people involved in it behind bars,” said Jagtar Singh, a resident of Khizrabad village.

Darshan Singh of Shahpur village in Kharar alleged cops at times don’t act against the sand mafia, as its goons have been attacking officials.

Moreover, after catching those driving sand-laden tractor-trailers, police have failed to reach the kingpin, as evident from the FIRs and conviction rate.

“Do police want us to believe that these drivers are the kingpin?” questioned Guljinder Singh of Akalgarh. “Only drivers and ground workers are booked or arrested. The kingpins remain safe and illegal mining goes on.”

The district administration, police and excise department are tasked with working in coordination to curb illegal mining.

A mining department officer, requesting anonymity, said: “There are many departments involved, so coordination is a big issue.” Mohali district mining officer Simarpreet Kaur Dhillon said efforts are on to curb the illegal mining. “Carrying out investigations, making arrests and filing the chargesheet are tasks to be done by the police department,” she said.

Nexus

Even as police probe has not established it yet, many locals allege the sand mafia has political backing. “Without political patronage, a driver or helper cannot dare to mine illegal sand or attack any government officer,” said Jagjit Singh of Majri.

However, the nexus between the mafia and law-enforcing agencies has been established during the vigilance probe.

“A mining officer in Dera Bassi had sent a report of mining up to 7- to 10-foot deep while 30- to 40-foot-deep mining was observed during the inspection. It is not possible without heavy machinery,” said a senior officer, who did not want to be named.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 10:34 IST