A CBI notice against the family of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek has caused a furore in the poll-bound state.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday served notices on the wife and sister-in-law of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee , asking them to report interrogation for questioning in connection with an illegal coal mining case involving “mastermind” Anup Majhi, said a CBI official.
Hours after the notice was served in connection with a case registered on November 27, 2020, Mr. Banerjee described the developments as “predictable” and “desperate”.
“At 2 p.m. 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,” the Diamond Harbour MP said, tagging a copy of the notice served to his wife, Rujira Banerjee, on Twitter.
On Sunday, a team of CBI officials had arrived at Mr. Banerjee’s residence at Shantiniketan Building on 188, Harish Mukherjee Road.
According to CBI sources, notice was served to Ms. Banerjee as a witness in a case involving coal theft under Section 160 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
“A team visited the residence of Mr. Banerjee’s wife, Rujira Banerjee, in Kolkata to deliver the notice for questioning on Sunday. Another notice was sent to his sister-in-law, Maneka Gambhir, in the evening,” said the CBI official.
In the notice, the CBI’s Investigating Officer stated, “You are hereby requested to remain present on 21.02.2021 at 15.00 hrs at the above-mentioned address for the purpose of answering certain questions relating to the case.”
It is learnt that Ms. Rujira Banerjee was not at home when the CBI team reached there.
The CBI official said the agency was yet to receive an official response from Ms. Rujira Banerjee, while Ms. Gambhir had agreed to join the probe on Monday.
The agency registered a case of alleged illegal mining and theft of coal from West Bengal’s Kunustoria and Majora collieries last November.
Among those named were Mr. Majhi, two General Managers of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), and the Chief Security Officer and two other officials of ECL’s Security Department.
Unknown officials of the Indian Railways and the Central Industrial Security Force were also under the scanner for facilitating theft and transportation of coal.
After registering the FIR, the CBI had also carried out searches at 45 locations across West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. More searches were carried out later.
Mr. Majhi and his main accomplice, Binay Mishra, are said to be absconding. Look-out circulars have been issued by the CBI against them.
The development has triggered an uproar in political circles in poll-bound West Bengal.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the notice shows how vindictive the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership can be. “Abhishek Banerjee has filed a defamation case against Union Home Minister Amit Shah. A court has asked him to present himself or send his representative on February 22. This development is a result of that,” Mr. Ghosh said.
However, former TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari, who recently joined the BJP, said he had shared details of a bank account in Bangkok where the proceeds from illegal smuggling of coal were going. “We want action in this regard. The sins committed should be brought out to public domain,” Mr. Adhikari said.
Mr. Banerjee said, “We are not scared”, adding that “people will give a befitting reply during voting”.