The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday carried out searches at two residential properties owned by Trinamool Youth Congress leader Vinay Mishra in connection with its probe into cattle smuggling racket. The CBI also searched the homes of two businessmen at Konnagar in Hooghly district as part of its probe into the coal theft racket.
Failing to find Mishra, the central agency issued a look-out notice against him and asked him to join the investigation on January 4.
“Two places belonging to Vinay Mishra were searched. The search operation was carried out for about seven hours. Mishra has been asked to appear before CBI investigators at Nizam Palace on January 4,” a CBI official said, adding that his name propped up several times during the investigation.
A team of at least 10 CBI officials searched Mishra’s houses in Lake Town and Rashbehari in Kolkata after procuring a search warrant from a court.
This is the first time that a TMC leader has been directly named in the case.
The BJP, which has been accusing Trinamool leaders of being linked to cattle smuggling and coal theft rackets, was quick to target Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and MP Abhishek Banerjee. “After the CBI raid at Vinay Mishra, power broker’s house in Bengal, emergency meeting called by Bengal’s high officials. Quite a movement noticed at Chief Minister and Bhaipo’s place,” Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP’s election in-charge for Bengal, tweeted.
Union minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo claimed that Mishra is close to “Bhaipoo” – referring to Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of Mamata Banerjee.
“This was bound to happen. Mishra is the right-hand man of Bhaipoo. Not only cattle smuggling, he is the man who supplies money for coal, sand smuggling. In fact, he is the man who handles the transfer and posting of lower rank police officials. He is linked to many. He is also linked to accused Anup Majhi who has been named in coal smuggling. Through him, the CBI probe will lead to bigger names,” Supriyo claimed.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) slammed the BJP, accusing the party of using the central agencies to target TMC leaders.
“The BJP is playing politics and it is all evident,” TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
“Abhishek Banerjee has no link to all this. BJP leader Babul Supriyo has been warned in the past by courts for making baseless allegations against Abhishek. Today the kind of statement he is giving is a clear case of contempt of court, and soon action will be taken against him. BJP is just trying to malign TMC’s name because they are not able to fight us otherwise. There are many who are named in Sarada and Narada cases against whom the agency has witnesses but unfortunately we are not seeing CBI at their premises and instead they are holding good post in the BJP,” Ghosh added.
“With most BJP allies quitting the NDA, the party’s new allies are central agencies like CBI, ED… The CBI, ED are working like BJP’s allies. But, Bengal is strong. The people of Bengal will not back BJP and will not be scared by their threats,” TMC spokesperson Debu Tudu said.
In September, the CBI had filed a case against former Border Security Force (BSF) officer Satish Kumar, three private persons and unknown public servants for their alleged involvement in illegal cattle trade along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Kumar was arrested on November 17.
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