In a major crackdown on the mining mafia, Punjab Police on Friday arrested contractor Rakesh Chaudhry of Jammu for illegal mining in Rupnagar and Mohali districts.
Chaudhry’s arrest sent shockwaves in state Congress circles as former ministers and leaders of the previous government enjoyed a good equation with him. His name had cropped up in the sting operation by former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia against former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi. Chaudhry’s name also came up during the investigation conducted by the Enforcement Directorate in the money laundering case linked to illegal sand mining by Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey.
Chaudhry was arrested from near Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bagh in Rupnagar and booked under Sections 21(1) and 4(1) of the mining Act and Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code at the Nangal police station.
Soon after the arrest, Punjab irrigation and mining minister Harjot Singh Bains tweeted: “Biggest ever crackdown on illegal mining mafia. Ropar police have arrested the kingpin of illegal mining during the last many years, Rakesh Chaudhry, on complaint of the mining department.”
Chaudhry was the mining contractor of Rupnagar district, which happens to be in the constituency of the minister.
Bains had promised to eradicate the mining mafia from the area during his poll campaign. “Everyone who was providing him shelter will be probed,” he said. Sources said that the mining department had sent a report to the district police that the accused had done massive illegal mining and caused loss to the state exchequer to the tune of crores.
Chaudhry is also facing a CBI probe for taking the contract of the National Highway Authority of India on forged documents.
During the Congress regime, police and administrative officials were not paying heed to Chaudhry as there was “a clear direction from the government to accommodate him”.
Rupnagar senior superintendent of police Sandeep Garg said that the police arrested the accused based on an FIR registered on the complaint of the mining department.