| Rohtas superintendent of police Manu Maharaj and other officers raid an illegal mining site at Karwandia. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary
A senior BJP leader, Gopal Narayan Singh, has been named accused for the fifth instance within a year this time for his alleged role in illegal quarrying in Rohtas district.
Superintendent of police (Rohtas) Manu Maharaj has confirmed institution of an FIR against the former state BJP president and others on Wednesday. Besides Gopal, the names of Kanhaiya Singh, Vishnu Pandit, Sunil Choudhary alias Chhotu, Indal Singh, Yogesh Gupta and Rinku Yadav figured in the FIR.
Gopal was named accused of illegal quarrying in Karwandia, Basa and Chandani Chowk areas under the Sasaram Mufassil police station. His bodyguard, Bharat Baitha, was arrested on the charge of inciting a mob that had attacked the police and administrative officials during the operation. All of them have been booked under various sections of the Forest Conservation Act and the Explosive Substance Act. The operation launched by sleuths of the economic offences unit was kept a closely guarded secret because of apprehension of leak of information.
We had received tip-off that illegal quarrying was going on in the Kaimur hills areas in collusion with some local forest, police and administrative officials despite a clear ban on mining imposed by the state government, a senior economic offences unit officer said in Patna.
Altogether 30 vehicles, including JCB and pock-lane machines, were seized and four persons were arrested during the operation.
This is not the first time when the BJP leader was made named accused for illegal mining and possessing explosive substance. The first case was lodged against him on December 12, 2011, followed by two cases on February 26 and one each on June 14 and September 4 this year. However, he got bail every time.
Gopal, on the other hand, said he had no idea about the operation launched by the economic offences unit in Rohtas. I am in Delhi for four days. I have no knowledge about the arrest of my bodyguard. He dropped me at the Patna airport, from where I boarded a flight and reached Delhi, he told The Telegraph over phone on Thursday.
The BJP leader alleged that it was a political conspiracy to drag his name into the case. There is a larger conspiracy to defame me and tarnish my image, he added.
Gopal also claimed that the government had earlier issued licence for quarrying in the region. The licence is valid up to 2013. Despite this, I had asked my staff to stop the work after the state governments announcement that the licence would not be renewed in view of its commitment towards forest conservation, he claimed.
Pradip Kumar Joshi, a former MLA of Dehri, has also been made a named accused in illegal mining case. Joshis wife and the present Dehri MLA, Rashmi Jyoti, had raised the matter in the Assembly and asked the government to withdraw her husband's name from the FIR.