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Police stop Khaira from ‘inspecting’ drain near Rana Sugar Mill in Amritsar

Sukhpal Khaira had alleged that Rana Sugars Limited, a mill that is owned by former irrigation minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s family, was discharging effluents in the drain that merged with the Beas river.

punjab Updated: May 28, 2018 09:48 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Punjab leader of opposition,Sukhpal Singh Khaira,Rana Sugar Mill
Leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira with a bottle of polluted water, he claimed was due to effluents from the mill, in Amritsar on Sunday. (HT Photo)

There was high drama in Butter Seviyan village, around 50km from the town, on Sunday after a posse of 40-odd policemen stopped Punjab leader of opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, from inspecting a drain in the village. Khaira was leading a 100-strong group comprising residents of Butter Seviyan and surrounding villages and Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) leaders Angrej Singh and Charandeep Bhinder towards the drain.

He had alleged that Rana Sugars Limited, a mill that is owned by former irrigation minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s family, was discharging effluents in the drain that merged with the Beas river. Khaira claimed that he had received complaints from villagers that due to the drain, diseases were common in the area. When stopped, villagers raised slogans against Rana. Khaira returned without inspecting the drain after an hour.

SSP Parampal Singh said, “We did not allow Khaira’s group to visit the drain to avoid a clash between them and the mil workers.”

‘Cops told me not to visit’

Before he went to the spot, Khaira had gone live on Facebook, claiming that Rana Gurjit had deployed goons in and outside his factory to stop him. “Senior police officers called me to say I should not go there; they said my life could be in danger,” he had claimed in the post.

He added, “The National Green Tribunal has issued a notice to the mill. Due to the release of effluents, residents are suffering from cancer, hepatitis, blindness and lung diseases. Rana Sugar Mill has also dug up bores of more than 500-feet inside factory premises to dispose toxic waste into the soil.”

Saying that he had also written to the Punjab Pollution Control Board chairman to start criminal proceedings against the mill, he added, “If not even a drop of poisonous residue from his factory is being released in the drain, then why is Rana Gurjit so scared?”

Khaira running malicious campaign: Mill director

Factory owner, Rana Partap Singh, who is a nephew of Rana Gurjit, said, “I challenge Khaira to prove even one of the charges he has levelled against us. Khaira is running a malicious campaign.” He added that he would welcome an inspection of the factory by experts or the PPCB.

CM flays Khaira’s ‘trespass bid’

Chandigarh Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has condemned Khaira for trying to force his way into he factory. “Khaira’s trespass bid was a violation of the law, with the potential to trigger violence,” he said, adding that neither the state police nor his government could allow anyone to indulge in such criminal actions.

“The AAP leader indulged in cheap street politics to grab media and public attention ahead of Monday’s Shahkot bypoll. The AAP leaders have not learnt their lessons from a series of electoral defeats,” he added.

First Published: May 28, 2018 09:47 IST