TWO DAYS after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered a probe into the Narada sting operation, police have registered an FIR against Narada News CEO Mathew Samuel on the basis of a complaint filed by Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee’s wife Ratna Chatterjee.
Sovan, along with several senior TMC ministers and leaders, was purportedly seen accepting money in exchange for doling out favour to a fictitious company, in the sting operation video released by Narada News.
The complaint was filed at the New Market police station at 10 pm on Saturday following which the Kolkata Police Detective Department lodged the FIR and initiated a probe into the sting operation, a senior police official said.
Samuel has been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 171G (false statement in connection with an election), 469 (forgery for the purpose of hampering reputation), 500 (defamation), 505 (1) (B) (statements conducing to public mischief) under the IPC.
According to sources, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed under Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, comprising senior officers such as joint Commissioner of Police (crime), Vishal Garg, and senior officers of the detective department, cyber crime cell and economic offence wing, to conduct a “thorough examination” of the sting operation’s video footage.
An investigation into the Narada sting operation is presently on by the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee while a case is pending on the issue in the Calcutta High Court, where the next hearing is scheduled on June 24.
Complainant Ratna Chatterjee claimed she had not mentioned anyone’s name in the FIR but had only said that the sting operation had adversely affected her reputation as well as her husband’s and requested police to investigate the matter and take appropriate steps.
Talking to The Indian Express, Samuel said the TMC leaders were conspiring to put him behind bars. “First, they take money from me and now they are saying I tried to defame them. They are conspiring to put me in jail. I am in talks with my lawyer and waiting for the next hearing at the high court where the case is on,” Samuel said. He added that he had submitted all the tapes to the Calcutta High Court.
Meanwhile, the news generated sharp reactions among Opposition parties. “It is a classic example of ‘chori aur seena jori’. What hurts me most is that Sovan has tainted the chair which was once occupied by people like Chittaranjan Das and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose while the CM, instead of removing him, has empowered him even further with other portfolios so that he can resort to even more corrupt practices,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury told The Indian Express.
CPM MLA Mohammed Salim said, “The TMC is trying to convert the mandate into a certificate of honesty. They had been in a denial mode from the beginning. The CM led the bandwagon and shielded the accused.”
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha demanded a CBI inquiry into the sting operation. “The CM has once again engaged her favourite police officer to tamper with the evidence just like in the Saradha probe. This case should be handled by CBI for an unbiased investigation,” he said.