The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided at ten places in Punjab including the residence of Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey. Channi said that the searches were “pressure tactics… a repeat of what happened with Mamata Banerjee’s relatives during West Bengal elections”.

Days ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday raided at 10 places in Ludhiana, Mohali and Pathankot districts in connection with an illegal sand mining case. Among the places searched was the Mohali residence of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew as well.

The ED is probing a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act based on an FIR registered in 2018 by the Punjab police against Kudrat Deep Singh, the main accused, who owns a quarry in Nawanshahr, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district.

It is learnt that Kudrat Deep Singh had two companies. The directors of the companies were Bhupinder Singh Honey, the nephew of Channi, and Sandeep Singh.

These raids were part of a money-laundering probe against the directors of the companies.

The illegal sand mining case was initially registered by the Punjab police at Rahon police station of Nawanshahr on the complaint of the mining officer under section 21(1) and 4(1) of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation of Development) Act, 1957, and under section 379, 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code. There were 26 accused in the case, most of them truck drivers.

According to the FIR, the police had stopped 30 tipper trucks filled with sand, most of which was taken from an area that was not marked for mining. Several types of machinery were also recovered, which were not to be used for mining at the site.

After the police FIR, the ED had initiated its investigation in the case.

Call it a poll gimmick, political vendetta, or lawful action, the ED searches in Punjab has filled social media with arguments and questions. Many Twitter handles are comparing this ED search with Bikram Singh Majithia’s case saying that if an FIR against Majithia was a lawful action, then how come ED’s raid on CM Channi’s nephew can be a political vendetta.

Congress leader and media coordinator of Punjab polls, Alka Lamba tweeted: “CBI, ED & IT raids become a tool of the BJP govt during the elections. 1. IT raid at DMK chief M.K.Stalin’s daughter just 2-days before the elections; 2. CBI raid at Abhishek Banerjee just one month before the elections. 3. ED raid at NCP chief Sharad Pawar just before the elections.”

In another tweet, she said Congress will not be afraid of the BJP’s polls gimmicks. “The BJP is shocked due to increasing popularity of Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi. The People of Punjab will give them a befitting reply in the polls,” she wrote.