CHANDIGARH: More troubles are bracing up for Punjab CM Charanjit Channi in the run-up to February 20 Punjab elections after a sting operation has made damning revelations on how gunmen and police gypsy was provided to his nephew Bhupinder alias Honey — who has been arrested by Enforcement Directorate over recovery of Rs 10 crore cash — amid a confession by a Sarpanch that money was likely the proceeds from illegal mining.
The confessions and video recordings show at least six black commandos travelling in a pair of gypsies, usually provided by special protection (SPU), to a VIP, either an MLA or MP among others.
The sting has been done by a mining activist Darshan Singh, who befriended the sand mafia to “expose” the alleged roles of CM’s family members in the illegal mining trade.
In the audio conversations that are also part of the sting, sarpanch Iqbal Singh can be heard admitting how a district forest officer (DFO) had told him to share his number to all drivers ferrying mined material from forest land in the riverine areas including Channi’s home constituency Chamkaur Sahib.
He also makes a disclosure that the proceeds of illegal mining, including Rs 1.5 per cubic feet, was being diverted to Channi.
These sensational charges come at a time when ED seized a total of ₹10 crore cash from CM’s nephew and his partner, Sandeep Kumar, in addition to gold worth ₹21 lakh and a Rolex watch worth ₹12 lakh.
The raids began on Tuesday when the ED searched 10 locations, including those linked to the CM’s nephew, in Chandigarh, Rupnagar, Ludhiana, Pathankot and Mohali.
SAD senior leader Bikram Majithia , who released the tapes of sting operation, sought to show Honey’s proximity to Channi through videos with gunmen and security provided to him as well as various visits by Channi to home of sarpanch Iqbal Singh and his son Bhinder in the last two years.
“Isn’t it strange CM Channi who is also holding charge of the mining and environment departments, had provided security to his own nephew and government vehicle? How was Rs 10 crore cash recovery made at Channi’s nephew’s home? Whose money was this? Was he directly sending this money ? Isn’t this a case of conflict of interest and Channi has no moral right to continue in office and use police vehicles anymore,” Majithia said
It is also unclear how Channi had inducted mining-tainted minister Rana Gurjit into his cabinet even as then Congress CM Capt Amarinder dropped him from cabinet.
While Channi has now begun to accuse ED of playing into the hands of the BJP, but it was his own police under then Amarinder government which had registered a case at Mohali on March 7, 2018 and had named one Ludhiana businessman Kudrat Deep Singh as accused among 26 others.
The FIR at Rahon police station in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar had been registered after then CM Captain Amarinder Singh apparently spotted illegal sand mining between Rahon and Phillaur from a chopper that was flying him to Kartarpur.
The audio ,that was released by the SAD, also pins the role of one Rakesh Chaudhary of Jammu, who is discussed as kingpin behind this.
Neither CM Channi nor Congress leaders responded to queries on fresh mining charges or recoveries of cash from CM’s nephew, leading to more factionalism within the party whether Channi can be declared a CM-pick in such circumstances or even be chosen as unanimous choice.
Many in Punjab Police also admit that there are several secret audio recordings between CM’s family members and certain cops, which may be released by Opposition parties including AAP, BJP and SAD in the run-up to elections.
Earlier, on Saturday, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose acrimony and bitterness with Channi is already growing over corruption charges and handling of Congress campaign, refused to defend him over accusations by Majithia.