Soft pedalling by the authorities

FOR THE first time in India's environmental history, a person was imprisoned for contempt of court in relation to the Sariska mining case.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee had invited petitioner Rajinder Singh, head of the Tarun Bharat Sangh, to accompany them on a tour of the mining areas. The mine-owners got wind of Rajinder Singh's presence and manhandled him in full view of committee chairperson M L Jain and the district collector, who ordered the team's police escort to go to Singh's aid. The collector did not register a case against the assailants right away; instead, at the Pratap Garu police station, he took Singh's statement in writing though he had been a witness to the assault on Singh.

Incensed by this soft-pedalling on the part of the authorities, Singh filed a contempt of court petition against Ashok Agarwal, a mine-owner. Agarwal was arrested and jailed in Alwar for one week.