Killing of Haryana DSP Turns Spotlight on Unabated Illegal Mining in Aravalli Belt
Representational use only.Image Courtesy: National Herald
Delhi: After Haryana Police DSP Surender Singh Bishnoi was mowed down by a dumper truck while he was on a raid to stop illegal mining activities in Nuh district, connections have been drawn between his death and illegal mining in the region.
The family members of the slain Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) have demanded a judicial probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the circumstances that led to Singh’s killing.
Singh was reportedly investigating illegal stone mining in the region.
Ashok Singh, one of the brothers of Surender Singh, raised questions on what the security staff of the police accompanying the DSP during the raid did when the accused persons puportedly brandished desi pistols. He also demanded the government to reveal an alleged nexus of the mining mafia and the role of the Mining Department.
“We want to know how the security staff reacted on seeing the accused with desi pistols in their hands. Was there been any exchange of fire? And if not, why? Was the local SHO of the area aware of the illegal mining?” he was quoted as asking by The Tribune. Adding that any negligence should be probed by the police, Ashok Singh pointed out that he found it strange that the Mining Department officials were not accompanying the police’s raid team.
The Haryana police on Wednesday arrested the main accused, Shabbir alias Mittar, the truck driver who is a resident of Pachgaon, Tauru. Police had already arrested Ikkar, the cleaner of the truck, after he had sustained a bullet wound on Tuesday in an exchange of fire with police during a search operation.
After Mittar’s arrest, Nuh Superintendent of Police, Varun Singla, said preliminary probe suggested that the arrested persons were not related to any organised ‘mining mafia’ or a syndicate. Instead, he said, the accused would quarry stones with other labourers to sell locally.
However, the significance of the widespread illegal stone mining in the Aravallis cannot be ignored in this context. The hills have been an exploited source of construction material for the region. The Dehradun-based Forest Survey of India (FSI) has reported that illegal mining could be observed on 778 hectares in the Aravalli region. According to a report by The Tribune, illegal mining is a multi-crore business involving Mewat villagers, politicians, businessmen, police personnel and even some bureaucrats. A miner from Alwar (Rajasthan) who works in the region told the newspaper that the ban on mining in the region has increased the “investment” in the illegal mining.
According to the miner The Tribune spoke to, those involved in mining have a proper network and engage villagers in quarrying and stone crushing. He claimed that the mining mafia has spies inform miners about police raids through WhatsApp groups. Their workers are apparently posted at toll plazas to ensure passage for non-numbered dumpers carrying stones. Further, he said, that dumper truck drivers are trained to use country-made (desi) pistols and deal with the police.
According to Haryana government data, with 239 out of total 910 FIRs, Nuh recorded the highest number of cases registered for illegal mining among all districts in the state in 2021-22. In the 23 FIRs registered in the current financial year, 68 vehicles used to transport the illegal mines minerals were also confiscated, the data showed.
Another report in The Tribune said that llegal mining has turned a vast area of Ballewala, Doiwala and Bailgarh villages into big craters, which look like big ponds, in Yamunanagar district of Haryana.
The report said that introduction of new stone crushers and screening plants in the area have increased the demand for raw mining material, which has paved the way for illegal mining to meet the enhanced demand.
As per the Haryana State Pollution Control Board, Yamunanagar, 211 stone crushers and 351 screening plants are functional in the district. Of these, 70 do not meet government regulations.
According to a stone crusher owner who spoke to The Tribune, land owners and farmers get a small amount of income by growing crops, but carrying out mining on their land can result in a much bigger income. Hence, many in the region indulge in illegal mining.
Despite a 2002 Supreme Court order banning mining activities in the entire Aravalli region, llegal mining for stones has been going on unchecked in the region and the Yamuna riverbed (sand mining). The police have already registered 38 cases in Faridabad and 37 in Palwal districts this year so far.
Earlier, Newsclick has reported that illegal sand and stone mining continued unabated in the ecologically sensitive Aravalli belt during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The activities continue even after the NGT on May 23 pulled up the Haryana and Union governments over their failure to check illegal mining in the Aravalli hill range and directed several government departments to file their responses over the next two months.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.