Chandigarh: Responding to a spate of alleged attacks on police personnel in Haryana, purportedly by those linked to the mining mafia, state home minister Anil Vij told Karnal superintendent of police, Ganga Ram Punia, and other officers of the district police department Monday to take stern action against the accused.
“Inka lihaaz mat karo. Mera naam lo, aur thok do (Don’t show them any consideration. Take my name and take action against them,” Vij said, on being told that police had arrested five people in the Gharaunda case, in which a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) had alleged a bid on his life earlier this month.
Repeating his own comments to the media later, Vij said the government would deal with the mining mafia (mostly of sand and stone) sternly. “I have given the police a free hand to deal with those involved in illegal mining,” he added.
While Vij didn’t clarify what he had meant by “thok do” (the phrase is often used to mean to kill someone), Punia, when contacted by ThePrint, only said that the minister had advised him to take stern action against those involved in the Gharaunda incident and in illegal mining.
On 3 February, DSP Manoj Kumar was reportedly probing a case of alleged illegal mining in Gharaunda, a town in the state’s Karnal district, when he claimed an attempt was made on his life, allegedly by those linked to the mining mafia.
Kumar had claimed that police had received a report of illegal mining in the Garhi Behral village and when he reached there with Gharaunda sub divisional magistrate (SDM) Aditi (who only uses a first name) and a team of police personnel, he saw three dumpers and a loader engaged in illegal mining.
When the accused saw the police team they “tried to escape” and the dumper driver allegedly tried to run Kumar over with the vehicle when the DSP signaled to them to stop.
According to Kumar, the dumper driver and the others managed to flee the spot, but a loading machine was seized from the spot. Punia informed Vij of the eventual arrests in the case and the seizure of a JCB machine.
During the investigation, the police reportedly came to know that illegal mining was being carried out in the fields of a local farmer with the help of a contractor. An FIR was registered against the owner of the land and the contractor under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and sections 353 (to deter a public servant from discharging his duty) and 279 (rash driving) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Gahri Behral incident was not the first alleged attack on police in Haryana, reported in cases of alleged illegal mining. While a deputy superintendent of police was killed, allegedly in a similar case in Tauru last July, two months later alleged members of the mining mafia are said to have attacked a joint team of police personnel and officials of the state’s mining department in Nuh district.
Moolchand Sharma, Haryana’s mining minister, however, told the assembly last August that there was “no organised illegal mining activity in the state, but only stray incidents of illegal mining are being reported which are being dealt with strictly as per law”.
Also read: Haryana’s one-year ayurveda study plan under MBBS can’t be executed, say medical experts
Before the Gharaunda incident
Surender Singh, a deputy superintendent of police posted at Tauru, was reportedly killed on the night of 18 July last year, allegedly by a dumper driver.
According to an FIR reportedly registered in the case, Singh and his team had raided a site of alleged illegal mining in Pachgaon. Singh had signalled to a truck, allegedly loaded with mining material, to stop, but the driver ignored his signal and sped away.
The FIR added that police team had given chase to the vehicle which was headed to a hilly area. When the truck showed signs of stopping, the DSP and his team approached the truck on foot. But the driver and cleaner, identified as Mittar and Ikkar and later arrested by police, allegedly threatened them with country-made arms, before turning the now-running tuck towards them.
While the cops accompanying Singh had managed to jump out of the way of the approaching truck, the DSP had been allegedly run over and succumbed to his injuries.
In August last year, the Haryana government set up a commission of inquiry to probe the DSP’s death. Led by Justice L.N. Mittal, a retired judge of Punjab and Haryana high court, a notification issued by additional chief secretary (home) T.V.S.N. Prasad, tasked the commission to look into the circumstances leading to the assault on DSP Surender Singh, which caused his death and suggest deterrent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and to curb illegal mining in that area.
“The commission shall complete the inquiry and submit its report to the state government of Haryana within a period of one month from the date of publication of this notification in the official gazette or such extended period as approved by the chief minister from time to time,” it said.
“The commission can devise its own procedure for conducting the inquiry subject to provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952,” the notification read.
However, the commission was disbanded by the state government in January this year.
In another incident of alleged attack on state police, in September 2022 purported members of the mining mafia had allegedly attacked a joint team of police personnel and officials of the state mining department in Nuh.
Acting on a tipoff, the joint team had reportedly gone to Baded village, where they had seized three machines being used for alleged illegal mining.
However, the “illegal miners” climbed atop a hillock and started pelting stones at the raiding party injuring one cop in the process.
The police had booked around 50 people in that case.
‘No organised mining’
According to state mining minister Moolchand Sharma’s presentation in assembly, a total of 4,664 cases related to illegal mining have been registered in Haryana in the past eight years, 6,091 accused arrested and 4,653 vehicles seized.
Seventy-nine cases related to attacks on police officials while on duty were registered, 227 accused were arrested, 60 police personnel were injured and one died between 2019 to July 2022.
Between August 2019 and June 2022 alone, 4,121 vehicles involved in illegal mining were been seized and over Rs 60 crore recovered as penalties in Gurugram, Nuh, Faridabad, Yamunanagar and Mahendergarh districts of the state.
Sharma had said suitable amendments will be brought to existing rules to make strict provisions to curb the occurrence of illegal mining in the state.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
Also read: Police backing, powerful links: How illegal liquor from Haryana finds its way to Gujarat, Bihar