Before Punjab elections, Channi's nephew sent to 14-day judicial custody
A court in Punjab on Friday sent Bhupinder Singh "Honey" to judicial custody for 14 days in a case of illegal sand mining. Honey—a nephew of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi—was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Jalandhar on February 3 and has been in the ED's custody since then. The probe comes hot on the heels of the 2022 Punjab elections.
- The judicial remand comes with just days to go for the hotly-contested Punjab elections.
- Opposition leaders in Punjab have accused the Congress-ruled state government of aiding illegal sand mining.
- CM Channi and his supporters, on the other hand, have rejected the allegations and instead accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government of misusing probe agencies against their political opponents.
Reportedly, Honey will be spending his judicial remand in the Kapurthala Jail. The ED had conducted raids against Honey and several others in January and seized around Rs. 10 crore in cash along with some documents. Recently, the agency said he had admitted that cash recovered from his possession had been earned through illegal sand mining and other illicit activities.
Incidentally, the ongoing ED investigation is based on a 2018 First Information Report (FIR) filed at Rahon Police station in Nawanshahr district. Reacting to the ED raid, Channi had earlier said, "This is nothing but an attempt to target me, my ministers, and Congress workers." He had added it could be a retaliatory act against the prime minister's security breach incident.
The BJP has long faced accusations of misusing federal investigation agencies, especially during the election season. Last April, just before the Tamil Nadu polls, the Income Tax Department had searched premises linked to now-Chief Minister MK Stalin's daughter Senthamarai. In a similar fashion, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's relatives were summoned for questioning by the CBI days ahead of state elections.
Elections in Punjab will be held in a single phase on February 20 and results will be declared on March 10. The Congress is fighting to retain power while the Aam Aadmi Party has set its eyes on expanding power out of Delhi. The BJP has partnered with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Akali Dal has allied with the Bahujan Samaj Party.