Updated: February 21, 2021 9:50:57 pm
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday reached the residence of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is also the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and served a notice on his wife Rujira Banerjee, asking her to join probe in a coal pilferage case, news agency PTI reported. A summon has also been issued to Rujira’s sister (Abhishek’s sister-in-law) Menaka Gambhir in the case.
According to the CBI sources, the team of officials from the probe agency reached Banerjee’s Kalighat residence but couldn’t find anyone there. They left after 15 minutes, serving a notice to Rujira to question her under Section 160 of CrPC (require attendance of witnesses, from the Code of Criminal Procedure). “Yes, she has been summoned in an ongoing probe,” said an official. Since Rujira was not present during CBI visit, the team has shared their number asking Rujira to get in touch with them by today. The CBI said they want to quiz her over some of her bank transactions.
In response to the notice, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee said he has full faith in the law of land. “At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down,” he tweeted.
At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down. pic.twitter.com/U0YB6SC5b8
— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) February 21, 2021
Following the visit, security has been tightened outside Abhishek Banerjee’s residence. “It is a conspiracy. Without any evidence, Amit Shah had defamed Abhishek Banerjee. The matter is in court, which has summoned the Home Minister or his representative to appear before the special judge tomorrow. A day before that, such an action by the CBI is a conspiracy against Abhishek Banerjee and it is politically motivated,” said TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.
Senior TMC leader and MP Saugata Roy said the action was “predictable”. “It was so predictable. All the allies have left them (BJP). So the only loyal allies are CBI and ED. We will fight it out. We are not scared. We believe people will give a befitting reply during voting,” Roy said.
CPI(M) Leader Sujan Chakraborty has also questioned the timing of the CBI’s action. “This could have be done two years ago. Why before the polls now? Bengal people want a free and fair election. But, now sincee Delhi wants, they are serving the notice,” said Chakraborty.
Meanwhile, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of Congress which has allied with the CPI(M) for the state assembly polls, said, “We wanted such Investigation by CBI, truth should come out. Whoever is being summoned should co-operate with CBI.”
In November 2020, the central probe agency had filed a case to probe the alleged illegal mining and theft of coal from Kunustoria and Kajoria coal fields of Eastern Coalfield Limited. Ever since, the BJP leaders has been alleging involvement of several TMC leaders, including Abhishek, who, they claimed, were instrumental in siphoning the money earned from the sales of the smuggled coal into the ruling party funds.
The CBI has in the past conducted several raids in connection with the probe. Recently, one of its teams also visited the coal mines.
With Assembly elections in the state drawing near, Mamata has been facing repeated attacks from the BJP leaders who have been accusing her of dynasty politics and preferential treatment towards her ‘bhaipo’ (nephew) Abhishek. Many of them have claimed that Abhishek will eventually be made the CM (candidate) of West Bengal.
Hitting out at the saffron camp during a rally last week, Mamata had dared Union Minister Amit Shah to first contest against her nephew before thinking of fighting her.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines