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In big jolt to Congress, Punjab Governor orders probe into sand mining scam involving party bigwigs

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi. (File Photo)

In a major jolt for the Congress, Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit has ordered the Director-General of Police (DGP) V.K. Bhawra to personally conduct an inquiry into the cases of illegal sand mining allegedly involving senior leaders of the party including the Chief Minister and various ministers. 

The DGP has been directed to report the progress of the inquiry to the office of the Governor directly.

The Governor's intervention comes days after a delegation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) met him seeking action against Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi and his relatives besides ministers of the Congress government who were allegedly involved in illegal mining.

Raghav Chadha, the election in-charge of AAP while addressing newsmen on Monday said, "Channi is a 'reta chor' and people will not vote for him." He claimed that Channi, as per a survey conducted by AAP, was losing from the Chamkaur Sahib seat.

Governor's action has unnerved the ruling Congress as the state goes to polls on February 20 and the Election Commission has imposed a code of conduct taking over the reins of the administration. The officers are now not bound by the orders of the Chief Minister or his cabinet colleagues.

The recent Enforcement Directorate's (ED) raid on the residence of a nephew of the Punjab CM had led to the recovery of Rs 10 crore unaccounted hard cash, jewellery worth Rs 21 lakh, and a Rolex watch valued at Rs 12 lakh. Besides, dubious transactions made by him to the tune of Rs 68 crore were also traced in the investigations.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh while accusing Channi of patronizing the mining mafia had alleged that several ministers and MLAs of his government were involved in illegal mining. He had brought the matter to the notice of AICC president Sonia Gandhi but she had not allowed him to take action against them.  

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Navjot Singh Sidhu did not condemn the ED raid on Channi's relative. Detractors of Channi within the party had been conceding that the Chief Minister was soft on the mining mafia.

Also read:  Punjab CM Channi’s image takes a battering as nephew’s link surfaces in mining scam