Mangaluru/Udupi, April 12, 2017: The government has been time and again stating that it would deal with the illegal sand extraction activity with an iron hand. But the irony is that assaults on sincere officials who dared to raid the illegal sand mining places have been continuing. Such assaults which were often reported from old Mysuru and North Karnataka Region until recently, has now reached our doorsteps. The incident reported on the night of April 5 when the Udupi Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis and Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag had a narrow escape from the sand mafia which launched an attack on their gunman and village accountant, during a raid on an illegal sand extraction unit at Kandlur in Kundapur taluk, has left the undivided district shell shocked.
Though the power and influence wielded by the sand mafia believed to be having a strong political nexus in both the districts are well-known, that they would dare to attempt an attack on two top officials of the district, was something unheard of in the region in the recent past. The incident which sparked protest from the government employees of Udupi district, hit headlines across the nation even as the ordinary man fumed at the sand mafia which was having its way with the sole intention of making fast bucks. It is an open secret that sand mining has turned into a lucrative business in the recent past with sand being extracted unabatedly violating all rules and transported to other districts in speeding tippers in the dead of the night. Innumerous raids by officials in the recent past, has had no effect with the sand mafia least fearing anyone owing to its strong political backing. Though there are quite a few authorised sand extraction sites, it is a fact that the illegal sand extractors make quick bucks by charging exorbitantly for each truck load of sand in outside districts.
Not withstandingly, the recent incident has only made the Udupi DC more determined to launch a crackdown on the sand mafia in the district. “I am not afraid of the hollow threats of sand miners, but I am shocked at their brutality. "They are not afraid of the law and have no respect for the system, but I will continue to fight,” said Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis. "
Alok Mohan, Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) has already stated that the police would take more intensified action against sand mafia in Udupi district. Henceforth, the police would book those involved in gambling and illegal sand extraction under the Goonda Act, he has assured.
Meanwhile, Udupi District in-charge Minister Pramod Madhwaraj has drawn flak from various corners for his comment soon after the incident. “The raid was conducted without informing the local police and the officials reached the spot in private vehicles. The attack took place when the DC’s gunman tried to take away a person from a house nearby,” he had said.
The BJP has come down heavily on the minister for failing to maintain law and order in the district. "He should own responsibility for the attack and resign from his post on moral grounds," Udupi District BJP Chief Mattar Ratnaker Hegde has demanded.
On the other hand, there has also been an interesting comment by Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel who has suspected the role of PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa and Udupi District In-charge Minister Pramod Madhwaraj behind unabated sand mafia that has now gone to extent of attacking the Udupi DC. He dubbed the Congress government as a Goonda government and even alleged that the ruling dispensation was at the mercy of sand and land mafia.
Here, one has to recall how the erstwhile Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada A B Ibrahim too had once faced the wrath of the sand mafia resulting in a heated exchange of words.
There is no denying that the sand mafia here cares none and fears none. The raids and seizing of machinery on numerous occasions have in no way been able to curb the illegal activity. The thriving sand mafia in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts is having its way and has shown its prowess by daring to target a Deputy Commissioner. Isn’t it high time to launch a crackdown?