The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday conducted raids at nearly a dozen places in Punjab in connection with an alleged illegal sand mining case, said the agency. The federal agency searched the residence and office premises of the suspects that include premises linked to sand mafia Bhupinder Singh Honey, an ED official said. The official said that the raids were conducted early on Tuesday and ED’s different teams were engaged in the simultaneous searches.
The agency initially refused to connect any political links in the case and said to share further details after the raids are completed. As per inputs, Honey is reportedly a relative of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and had allegedly floated a firm named Punjab Realtors to get sand mining contracts. The ED suspects that black money was invested in getting a contract for the sand mine. The company floated, sources say, is of very small scale and unlikely to get a contract worth crores.
The searches assume significance as Punjab will go to the polls in a single phase on February 20 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10. The term of the state assembly will end in March. In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years. Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats.