The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday burnt effigies and raised slogans against the Congress government in statewide protests after its legislator Amarjit Singh Sandoa was allegedly attacked by members of a sand mining mafia in Punjab’s Rupnagar district. Sandoa was visiting a quarry on Thursday to verify reports of illegal sand mining in Rupnagar’s Beinhara village when he was attacked with iron rods and wooden planks.
The AAP workers demonstrated at various places across Punjab including Rupnagar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Moga. In Chandigarh, a party delegation led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira, also the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, met Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore over the attack on Sandoa and illegal sand mining.
Senior AAP leader Kanwar Sandhu later said the governor assured the party of “action and intervention”. Condemning the attack on the Rupnagar MLA, the opposition party alleged that the mining mafia continued to flourish under the present regime. “During the past ten years the mining mafia flourished under the SAD-BJP rule. Unfortunately, things have not changed even now and this mafia continues to flourish under the present Congress regime too,” Khaira said.
“Illegal mining cannot operate without political patronage, this has to end,” he added. The party also demanded a special session of the Punjab assembly to discuss various burning issues. “We demand a special session on various issues including illegal mining, mafia raj, attack on legislators and officials by the mafia, incidents of farmers’ suicides, falling standard of education, problem of unemployment, pollution of river waters, among other issues,” Khaira said.
He rubbished charges by the Shiromani Akali Dal that Sandoa’s attackers were actually AAP supporters who were protesting extortions by the Rupnagar legislator. “These are baseless charges, bereft of facts and without any evidence,” Khaira said.
Sandoa’s personal security officer, Head Constable Sukhdeep Singh, was also injured in the attack, a video of which surfaced on social media. Rupnagar police have arrested three men in connection with the case and a hunt to nab the remaining two accused is underway. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has sought a detailed report from the Rupnagar deputy commissioner as opposition parties expressed outrage over the attack.
The attack on Sandoa came three days after alleged members of a sand mining mafia attacked six forest department officers in Punjab’s Mohali district. Two of them were seriously injured.