The CBI on Thursday arrested Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal in connection with a case related to allegations of cattle smuggling, the agency said.
According to the CBI, the TMC’s Birbhum district president was first detained from his house in Bolpur and then taken to a guesthouse in Asansol, where he was arrested. He was taken away from his house before being arrested for security reasons, said sources.
“The said accused was consistently avoiding the CBI’s summons… and not cooperating with the CBI investigation into the case. Further investigation is continuing to unearth larger conspiracy,” the CBI said in a statement.
While some TMC leaders called the arrest of Mondal “BJP’s conspiracy”, senior party leader Saugata Roy said: “We are not ready to speak about it right now.”
Later, in a press conference at Trinamool Bhavan in Kolkata, West Bengal minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said: “We have already said, and our national general secretary has made it clear, that we don’t support immoral activities.” The TMC has, however, questioned the “neutrality” of the investigation and has planned a state-wide protest on the issue on Friday.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should immediately issue a statement on the arrest, which is the second arrest by a central agency of a top TMC leader in less than three weeks. The Enforcement Directorate had in July arrested the state’s then Industry and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee in connection the alleged teachers’ recruitment scam.
On Thursday, a CBI team accompanied by personnel from the central forces reached Mondal’s house after he skipped two scheduled appearances before the agency. According to sources, Mondal has evaded a total of around eight summons in the case.
The CBI team and central forces surrounded Mondal’s house and then confiscated the phones of all those who were at the house.
Mondal had earlier sought more time to appear before the agency, with his lawyer citing illness as the reason. A doctor had claimed he was forced to write the prescription for Mondal.
The CBI had registered a case on September 21, 2020 against a number of people, including a then BSF commandant and three private persons as well as unknown public servants/private persons regarding allegations of illegal cross-border trade of cattle. Searches in connection with the case had earlier been conducted at various locations across the country.