Chandigarh, March 6: Within days of asking top bureaucrats and police leadership to stop 'goonda tax' and illegal mining, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today himself saw the sand mafia in action from aboard his helicopter, fired direct orders for action against illegal mining, all while flying in his chopper over Kartarpur skies, even as fellow traveller(s) clicked pictures of the CM in action.
With dramatic alacrity, the Nawanshahr district's civil and police administration seized 13 Poclain excavator machines, 4 JCBs along with two forklifts and 30 tipper trucks from village Malikpur. For some reason, the official insisted on calling the excavator machines as "Porklanes”.
Someone accompanying the CM on board his helicopter had the presence of mind and started clicking photographs of Amarinder Singh even when he was looking down at the illegal mining at the "shocking sight," and was asking "the helicopter pilot to fly lower and take a sortie around the river banks" to check out the scam in action.
In fact, all this while, whoever had turned into a photographer was not only clicking pictures of the illegal mining but also of the CM looking out of the helicopter at the illegal mining. These photographs generated picture-perfect postcards of a CM in action even in the air when he was merely flying over an area -- a clear proof of a chief minister in tune with the problems of the public and a hands on approach to administration.
The civil and police administrations are expected to keep the people safe against any Pathankot style terror incident and ideally, they should be able to spot any suspicious activity, even a couple of two rucksack-carrying young men loitering suspiciously near a river bank lest they turn out to be Pakistani infiltrators. How they missed to spot 13 Poclain excavator machines, 4 JCBs along with two forklifts and 30 tipper trucks in a single village is a question for the people to ponder.
To underline the CM's quick response to an illegality, the Public Relations machinery of the Punjab government flooded media houses with dozens of pictures of the CM in the helicopter and the illegal mining going on below on the ground.
So far, there has been no confirmation of any tough questions being asked of the Deputy Commissioner and SSP downwards to lower ranks of civil and police machinery why, even after strict orders of the CM to act against illegal mining, they failed to spot 13 Poclain excavator machines, 4 JCBs along with two forklifts and 30 tipper trucks in a single village.
Ironically, these are the civil and police administrations which are expected to keep the people safe against any Pathankot style terror incident. Ideally, they should be able to spot any suspicious activity, even two rucksack-carrying young men moving suspiciously near a river bank lest they turn out to be Pakistani infiltrators.
"If they failed to spot 13 Poclain excavator machines, 4 JCBs along with two forklifts and 30 tipper trucks in a single village, then a lot of heads should roll starting with some top officials sitting in Chandigarh," said a security expert.
The government claimed that a massive crackdown was launched in the Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts after Amarinder Singh spotted the illegal mining activity being carried out on the Sutlej river bed.
Someone accompanying the CM on board his helicopter had the presence of mind to click multiple photographs of Amarinder Singh even while he was expressing his shock at the illegal mining and asking the pilot to fly low and take another sortie.
A group of villagers in Kartarpur told Punjab Today reporter that they were lucky that the CM was sitting on the right side of the chopper where he could spot the illegal mining. A young man said the Malikpur village was lucky that the CM was going to Jalandhar by a chopper. "Had he travelled by road, he would have missed this illegality and it would have continued as it had for months now," he said.
"Aseen ta kayee vaari shikayata kar chukke, akhbaran vich surkhiyan vee chhapp gayiyan kayee vaari, par koyee sunn'da hee nahi. Akal Purakh ne ajj bacha liya. Je CM Sahib dooje paase baith jaande udan-khatole vich, ta haner-gardi chaldi rehni si," said a villager, Balbir Singh Thukral.
(Rough translation - "We had complained many times, many a times such news headlines also appeared in newspapers but no one was listening. We thank God that the CM was sitting on the right side in the chopper, otherwise the wrong-doing would have continued.")
In fact, even the order to seize the equipment was given directly by the CM, the official statement said. IT is not known why the local authorities were not trusted by the CM that they will take appropriate punitive and legal action.
While an official spokesperson said "the Chief Minister (has) made it clear that no laxity or complicity in the matter would be tolerated," he did not clarify who had been tolerating it for so long.
The CM was flying to Kartarpur to dedicate to the nation the second phase of the Jang-e-Memorial monument when he spotted illegal mining in the Rahon area of Nawanshahr and also in Phillaur.
In what sounded like either a confessional statement (or perhaps a case of rather poor drafting by a lazy press release writer), the official statement attributed to the CM words to the effect that "non-compliance or further delay in this regard would not be tolerated."
It is likely to give a handle to the opposition to beat the ruling party with and ask why was non-compliance of CM's orders being tolerated so far.
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