Thu, 19 May 2022

New Delhi [India], January 19 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized more than Rs 10 crore cash, gold worth above 21 lakh and a Rolex watch worth Rs 12 lakh from the residential premises of land mafia Bhupinder Singh Honey, a relative of state Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, and others in connection with an alleged illegal sand mining case.

The Enforcement Directorate declares the recoveries after it concluded its two-day raid conducted at the business and residential premises of the accused persons and their associates in over a dozen places in Mohali, Ludhiana, Rupnagar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Pathankot.

The ED raids went on from 7.30 am till late night on Tuesday and it again started on early Wednesday under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The federal agency said it raided the premises of the accused persons and their associates including Kudratdeep Singh, the owner of Pinjore Royalty Company, and his partners and shareholders Kanwarmahip Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sunil Kumar Joshi, Jagveer Inder Singh.

The raids were also conducted at the premises of Randeep Singh, the owner of Providers Overseas Consultants Pvt Ltd and its other Directors and shareholders including Bhupinder Singh and Sandeep Kumar.

The places being searched on Tuesday and Wednesday include Honey's Homeland Heights Society residence in Mohali's Sector-70.

"During the course of the search, various incriminating documents related to the sand mining business, property transactions; mobile phones, Indian currency more than Rs 10 Crore, Gold worth above 21 lakhs and a Rolex watch worth Rs 12 lakhs were found and seized from the search premises," said the ED said, adding it "carried out search operation in the illegal sand mining case".

ED initiated a money-laundering investigation on the basis of FIR registered at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar Police Station under section 379, 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 21(1) and 4(1) of Mines and Minerals (Regulation of Development) Act, 1957 in March 2018.

In the FIR, it was mentioned that a team comprising of officials of the Mining Department, Civil Administration and Police Department made a surprise check on March 7, 2018, on the basis of a complaint received at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar Police Station regarding illegal sand mining.

Consequently, it was found that several mines were being excavated by various machines and mining was being carried out beyond the designated area.

Accordingly, several tippers and trucks, Porcelain machines and JCB Machines were captured and seized by the investigating team.

"The seized tipper and trucks were also found to be overloaded with sand. The seized weighment slips having office stamps had actually not been issued by the concerned office and were forged," said the ED.

Subsequently, the ED said, the mining operation at Malikpur mining site was stopped and also the approval of weighment slips was stopped by the team.

As per the FIR, apart from Malikpur, illegal mining activities were also carried out at Burjtahl Das, Barsal, Lalewal, Mandala and Khosa.

On the basis of information available, the ED said, the investigation was initiated against all the accused mine owners and their associates in order to ascertain the money laundering activities undertaken by them for laundering their proceeds of crime.

"Further investigation in this case is ongoing," said the ED.

An ED team is also questioning Honey and recording his statement. However, the officials said, the decision to arrest anyone would be taken as per the situation.

The ED has refused to connect any political links in the case.

The ED suspects that black money was invested in getting a contract of the sand mine. The company floated, sources say, is of very small scale and unlikely to get a contract worth crores.

Honey's partner Kudratdeep Singh of Ludhiana and 25 others are already booked by Punjab Police in its FIR registered in 2018.

When the ED questioned Kudratdeep Singh it came to the fore that the main facilitator was Honey.

Sources in the ED said the agency is probing whether the CM's name was used to do illegal mining.

With the Assembly election in Punjab slated for February 20, the timing of raids is all set to rise the electioneering mercury in the State.

Voting for 117 assembly seats in Punjab is slated for February 20.

Punjab CM Channi on Tuesday termed the raids as part of a political vendetta, saying "Congress party and its leaders will not budge under any pressure". (ANI)

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