The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday morning raided the home of Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew in connection with alleged illegal sand mining, NDTV reported. The officials also raided 10 other places in Punjab.
The central agency is investigating a money laundering case based on a first information report registered in 2018 by the Punjab Police against a person called Kudrat Deep Singh, The Indian Express reported.
Kudrat Deep Singh owns a quarry in Nawanshahr town of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district in Punjab. Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey is reportedly a director at one of the companies formed by Kudrat Deep Singh.
According to the FIR, a total of 26 people have been booked in the case. In 2018, the police had found 30 trucks carrying sand from area where mining was illegal.
The raids on the chief minister’s nephew come weeks before Punjab Assembly elections scheduled to take place on February 20. The results will be declared on March 10.
Speaking to reporters, Channi alleged that he was being targeted with the motive of putting pressure on him ahead of the Assembly polls, ANI reported.
“When there were polls in West Bengal, such attacks took place on Mamata Banerjee’s relatives,” Channi said, according to PTI. “Now, in the same pattern in Punjab, Enforcement Directorate is trying to put pressure and give trouble.”
Asked if he sees political vendetta behind the raids, Channi told reporters: “You know what all programmes happened during the past few days...Now this attempt to put pressure on me and the Punjab Congress will not succeed.”
Other Congress leaders also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was misusing the central agency. National President of the Indian Youth Congress Srinivas BV condemned the raids, by saying that the raids marked the beginning of BJP’s election campaign in Punjab.
Congress leader Alka Lamba alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department become Bharatiya Janata Party’s tools during elections.
She added: “Congress is not going to be afraid and back away from these electoral gimmicks of the BJP government in the middle of the elections in Punjab.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party National Convener Arvind Kejriwal told reporters it was sad that a relative of the chief mnister was being raided, PTI reported. He claimed that his party leader Raghav Chadha had shown that illegal sand mining was taking place at Channi’s own Assembly constituency Chamkaur Sahib.
“Despite uncovering it, the chief minister did not take action and even tried to justify it,” Kejriwal said. “It is clear that he [Channi] and his family are involved in illegal sand mining. What can be expected for Punjab’s future from a person whose family is involved in illegal mining.”