Updated: January 20, 2022 10:01:11 am
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Wednesday alleged that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) action against his nephew, Bhupinder Singh Honey, in a 2018 sand mining case was part a “conspiracy” by the Centre to stop him and others in the Congress party from contesting the Assembly elections. He further alleged that his Cabinet ministers too were being threatened.
Flanked by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Brahm Mohindra, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Channi said that the ED wanted to trap him in the sand mining case.
He said: “What I have heard is that they wanted to arrest me last night. The courts were kept open till 6 am (because) I will be arrested. My nephew was tortured to bring my name into the case. But when it did not happen then they asked the court to close. I have not met my nephew. We do not even know where he is now. I have been told that those who interrogated him told him that they would not allow us to contest elections.”
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Channi alleged that attempts were being made to stop him from contesting in the upcoming Assembly elections.
“This is oppression. We are being forcibly dragged into the case. I hope the people of Punjab will stand with me as I have stood by them during the visit of the PM. I have been a minister and MLA but there is no taint on me. But they want to forcibly put a blot on me. I have been told that I will not be allowed to file nomination and contest elections….Our ministers are also getting threats,” said Channi.
The CM said the ED episode was the fallout of Prime Minister’s visit to the state and the alleged security breach.
“If the chairs were empty, (at the venue where Modi was due to come) what is my fault? Why is there a vendetta against me? Had I fired at the protesting farmers then it would have been fine. But I didn’t do it. Now, I am paying for it,” he said.
Channi claimed that Punjabis were being targeted by the Centre.
“Now, attempts are made that our people are not able to contest elections. Relatives are being pressed. Whenever they think it is difficult to win, then they let their agencies loose,” Channi said.
ED sources on Wednesday said that about Rs 10 crore cash had been seized during the raids conducted as part of its anti-money laundering investigation against illegal sand mining operations in Punjab that included about Rs 8 crore from the premises linked to Channi’s nephew Honey.
ED officials said the action had been initiated after taking cognisance of the 2018 FIR of the Nawanshahr police and some other such police complaints against some companies and individuals alleged to be involved in the business of illegal sand mining in the state.
But Channi defended his nephew and said: “When my nephew’s name is not there in the FIR then why has he been dragged? The other accused Kudratdeep Singh’s name has been deleted from the FIR as the mine allotted to him did not operate…I do not say spare my kin if he is tainted. But when he is not involved then why should they be doing all this?”
He added: “Honey became a partner in Kudratdeep Singh’s firm later. The FIR was registered earlier.”
Channi hit out at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who targeted the former over the raids.
The CM said AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal was in cahoots with BJP.
“That is why no one is joining the BJP after quitting AAP. Why is the arm-twisting of Congress leaders being done?” he said, adding: “Kejriwal has an understanding with the BJP. No one is saying anything to AAP, the election field is open for them, but not for us. They are trying to put us under pressure.”
On former CM Amarinder Singh’s alleged dossier on Congress legislators, Channi said: “That he must be knowing.”
He said Amarinder, SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia, who was booked by the government recently, were all behind this ED case. “All of them are together in this to target one person (Channi)…They should have raided my house. Why are they going here and there to reach me,” said Channi.
Amarinder Singh denied the charge and his media advisor quoted him as saying, “ED doesn’t report to me @CHARANJITCHANNI. Nor did I plant the money seized from your kin. So stop blaming me for your family’s crimes. As I always say, the law takes its own course, something that @INCIndia forgot when they accused me of shielding culprits.”
(WITH PTI INPUTS)
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