Monday, September 06, 2010

BJP MP-Mining mafia link exposed?

BJP MP-Mining mafia link exposed?

Thirty days after BJP MP Dinu Solanki, the key suspect in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa, went into hiding, TIMES NOW has now accessed documents which exposes Solanki's alleged links to the mining mafia.

Solanki, whose nephew is accused of murdering Jethwa, has been on the run for the past 35 days, since the murder on July 21, 2010. Jhetwa was gunned down near the High Court after he filed a Public Interest Ligitation (PIL) on illegal mining in the Gir forest region of Junagarh district, in which he alleged Solanki's link to mafia.

Documents with TIMES NOW show the extraordinary clout and influence Solanki enjoys with the local administration and police, who openly defied state government dictats and even the Chief Minister himself, to keep illegal mining under wraps. Jethwa may have been killed as he was trying to expose this and lay bare the nexus between BJP MP Dinu Solanki and the mining mafia.

In 2002 Gujarat's Forest Department banned mining within a 5-km radius of the the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last remaining natural habitat of wild Asiatic lions. However TIMES NOW has accessed a document dated January 2004, two years after this ban, which shows rights to a mine being openly granted to Solanki within that area despite the ban.

There are documents which show that, following this, the Forest Department wrote complaint letters to various agencies including collectors and the adminstration demanding that the illegal mines be shut. When no action was taken, it seems the matter reached the Chief Minister, who in December last year wrote to a Congress MP saying he had ordered a probe into the larger illegal mining issue, and asked the Mines and Minerals Department to look into it.

Interestingly, TIMES NOW has a copy of a letter written a few months later in February 2010, by a hassled Mines and Minerals Department to the local police station alleging non-cooperation from the local police officials in registering their forest officers' complaint against the miners. This shows that the local police are willing to defy even the Gujarat government, to protect the interests of Solanki and the mining mafia.

Speaking to TIMES NOW in July this year, Solanki denied any role in Jethwa's murder saying the police did not have any evidence against him. "If the police has any evidence, we will see. This matter does not concern me. I won't any explanation to anyone," he said.

The Gujarat Government on August 23 placed before the High Court a report on the police investigation into the murder case in connection with Jethwa's PIL. A Division Bench of Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice K M Thakar included Jethwa's younger brother Bhavin and maternal uncle Vijay Rathod as petitioners in the PIL. Bhavin and Rathod had filed applications to be included as petitioners in the case after Jethwa's death.

When the matter came up for hearing, the government handed over the report, in a sealed cover, containing details of the probe conducted by the Crime Branch.
The HC asked the government to keep it updated about further developments into the case during hearing of the PIL.

Three persons, including a police constable from Junagadh, have been arrested in connection with the activist's murder. Pratap alias Shiva Solanki, nephew of BJP Lok Sabha MP from Junagadh Dinu Solanki, has also come under police scanner.

Jethwa's father Bhikabhai had alleged that Dinu Solanki was behind his son's murder, which police suspect, was linked to illegal mining activity in Gir.

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