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Jammu BJP leader accuses MoS of links with mining mafia

Vikram Randhawa, a former MLC who is the president of the Stone Crushers’ Association, threatened to kill himself within a week over a Rs 22 lakh penalty slapped on his stone-crusher unit in Belicharana area by the Geology and Mining Department.

A SENIOR BJP leader has accused the Union Minister of State in the PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh, of patronising the mining mafia in illegal extraction of minor minerals from river Tawi here.

Vikram Randhawa, a former MLC who is the president of the Stone Crushers’ Association, threatened to kill himself within a week over a Rs 22 lakh penalty slapped on his stone-crusher unit in Belicharana area by the Geology and Mining Department. “However, before shooting myself, I will shoot District Mining Officer Ankur Sachdev,’’ Randhawa told mediapersons, adding that Sachdev was collecting money from the mining mafia on behalf of Union MoS Singh and his personal staff based in Jammu.

Jitendra Singh has denied the charges, serving a notice on Randhawa demanding an unconditional apology, threatening a suit of Rs 1 crore in damages otherwise. The BJP has also served a show-cause notice on Randhawa, seeking evidence of the charges within two days.

Randhawa, who has also accused the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, and SSP, Jammu, of being involved in the alleged racket, said that in November last year, Sachdev had raided 14 of the nearly 45 stone crushers running on own land from Badyal Brahmana to Ramnagar in Jammu province though they were all registered with the UT administration. Among them was Randhawa’s unit. Each was slapped with a penalty, ranging between Rs 20-25 lakh for illegal mining.

Defending his action, Sachdev said extraction of minor materials from the Tawi had been banned by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in November 2016, and that the 14 units were functioning clandestinely. Sachdev said that the raids had revealed huge quantities of minor materials with the stone crushers.

On the claims of owners that the units were shut, the official pointed out that Power Development Department records showed that Randhawa’s stone crusher alone had consumed 1.20 lakh units of electricity during the period. Sachdev said he had informed his seniors and police about Randhawa’s threats to him.

Taking note of Randhawa’s charges, the Congress has demanded the resignation of Singh and a high-level probe. The J&K Apni Party also sought a probe. “Randhawa’s sensational disclosures have taken the lid off the nexus between the mining mafia and BJP,” Congress youth wing president Uday Bhanu Chib said.

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