Mukerian ‘illegal mining’ row: Over 160 SAD workers booked for protest against Cong MLA, his sons

The development comes two days after SAD chief Sukhbir Badal visited Mukerian and alleged involvement of Baghapurana MLA Darshan Singh Brar’s son in illegal sand mining.

Two notices for alleged illegal mining were issued by the mining department to a firm registered in the name of a Congress MLA’s son in 2020, the Shiromani Akali Dal claimed even as Moga police registered an FIR against 10 Akali Dal leaders by name and over 150 of their supporters for holding the protest march in Baghapurana over the issue.

The development comes two days after SAD chief Sukhbir Badal visited Mukerian and alleged involvement of Baghapurana MLA Darshan Singh Brar’s son in illegal sand mining.

Later, Akali workers led by party’s Moga unit district president Tirath Singh Mahla had held a protest Saturday evening at Baghapurana’s main chowk demanding action against Congress MLA Darshan Singh Brar and his two sons — Gurjant Singh Brar and Kamaljit Singh Brar — for their alleged involvement in illegal mining.

After visiting the site of alleged illegal sand mining in village Bringali of Hoshiarpur earlier that day, Sukhbir had tweeted, “Walked several kms to see the extent to which illegal sand mining at Bringali village in Mukerian has ravaged the area. People told me the illegal mining was being done by Gurjant Brar s/o Cong MLA from Baghapurana Darshan Brar. Let’s see what @capt_amarinder has to say to this.”

On Monday, police registered an FIR against Mahla and at least 160 others for “blocking the traffic, causing harassment to commuters and flouting Covid guidelines by holding a gathering” under the Sections 283 (causing danger, obstruction or injury to any person in any public way or public line of navigation) and 188 (disobedience to the order promulgated by public servant) of IPC, at Baghapurana police station.

Undeterred by the FIR, Mahla, while producing copies of documents, alleged that the company M/S Brar Stone, allegedly owned by MLA’s elder son Gurjant Singh Brar, was issued two notices — in July and November last year — by Pathankot mining officer demanding royalty of at least Rs 1.56 crore because “the company carried out mining work without obtaining required permissions and flouted the excavation rules”.

As per the copies of the documents shared by Mahla, the first notice issued by Pathankot mining officer, who holds additional charge of stone crushers in Hoshiarpur, dated July 9, 2020 and addressed to M/S Brar Stone, village Bringali, district Hoshiarpur, reads, “…. It appears that you have raised Gravel Minor Mineral without lawful authority and have removed as per unit… from the land situated in village Bringali… You are therefore directed to appear in person…before the undersigned at Pathankot on 8/8/2020… to produce the accounts and documents.. In event of your failure to comply with this notice, I shall proceed to access the royalty under the Rule 85 (5) of Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013… and ‘you will be liable to prosecution under Rule 76.”

The second ‘Demand Notice’ issued on November 23, 2020, reads, “… In continuation to earlier notice, you are hereby informed that total production of minerals…till October 2020…has been finally determined as 1,30,298 tones and accordingly royalty…is payable by you. You are hereby directed to pay the amount of RS 1,56,35,760 (One crore fifty six lakh thirty five thousand seven hundred sixty) … on or before 22/12/2020/..”

Confirming that M/S Brar Stone (village Bringali, Mukerian) was registered in name of Gurjant Singh Brar, resident of village Khote (Nihal Singh Wala), Gagan, mining officer Pathankot with additional charge of stone crushers Hoshiarpur, said, “We had issued notice to M/S Brar Stone as they had failed to reveal the source of its raw material for its gravel operations. The company owns a stone crusher. After they failed to pay royalty despite demand notice issued last year, the case has now been sent to district collector to recover the pending dues.”

While MLA Darshan Singh Brar’s phone was switched off, his son Kamaljit Brar did not respond to the calls and messages despite repeated attempts. Kamaljit’s PA said that they will revert, but they did not till the filing of this report.

PPCC president Sunil Jakhar said, “If the notices have been issued, this shows that there has been no political interference and they have been held accountable for wrongdoing, if any. During SAD-BJP regime, none of Akalis who were involved in illegal sand mining were held accountable due to political interference. Congress never protects its own people involved in any wrongdoing and in this case also, if they owe any amount to public exchequer, they will be questioned and asked to clear the dues.”

Meanwhile, speaking about FIR against SAD workers and himself, Mahla said, “Captain Amarinder Singh can register as many FIRs as he wants against the Akalis but the documents speak for themselves.”

He added: “Instead of booking the MLA and his sons, we have been booked for holding a protest whereas we did not even block traffic for a minute as mentioned in the FIR. When I spoke to the local DSP, he said it was his compulsion to register this false FIR.”

Questioning CM’s silence on allegations against his own MLA and his kin, Mahla said: “We are not going to keep quiet fearing these false and meaningless FIRs. If they want to take out grudge against us, I would tell them to register ten more such FIRs. No FIR is registered when Congress leaders hold protest against BJP. Then the Covid rules are not flouted but when SAD protests against Congress, Covid comes to their rescue. This is open hooliganism. If Brar and his sons are not involved in any wrongdoing, why they are quiet since two days?”

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