Two days after Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee lodged a defamation case against Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday summoned his wife Rujira Narula and her sister for questioning in an alleged coal scam in West Bengal.
Sources said a team of CBI officials reached Banerjee’s house at around 2 pm but could not find Narula. They delivered the letter to one of the officials present at their house. Later, the CBI officers went to Narula’s sister’s house and handed over another summons letter in the same case.
“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,” Banerjee later reacted in a post on Twitter.
The coal scam investigation has been ongoing since November last year but the fresh summon to Narula came after CBI conducted searches at 13 locations in four districts including Purulia, Bankura, Paschim Bardhaman and Kolkata in on February 19.
The CBI had registered an FIR against Manjhi alias Lala (the alleged kingpin of the racket), the General Managers of the Eastern Coalfield Ltd Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai (ECL employee at Kajora area in West Burdwan), Area Security Inspector, Kunustoria (West Burdwan) Dhananjay Rai, security in-charge of ECL in Kajora, Debashish Mukherjee and ECL Chief of Security Tanmay Das.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, reacting to the development, said, “I don’t know what CBI is probing but everybody knows how much money went to ‘extortionist Bhaipo’s’ (Abhishek Banerjee) house through Lala. Everybody knows who ‘Madam Narula’ is and who parked money in Thailand banks. There was a misuse of power and we want action.”
There are allegations that Manjhi Lala is involved in the illegal mining and theft of coal, worth several crores of rupees, from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora located in West Burdwan.
State BJP President Dilip Ghosh said, “Lets CBI do their job. I think there should be a probe into the matter and the guilty should be punished.”
CPI (M) legislature Sujan Chakraborty too welcomed the CBI move and said “everyone knew about cow smuggling, sand smuggling, coal smuggling in Bengal”.
Congress State President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the party was not surprised with CBI notice in this case. “If someone has actually committed a crime then a proper investigation should be carried out,” he said.
The CBI notices to Narula and her sister come amid the bitter fight between BJP and TMC ahead of the upcoming Assembly Polls in West Bengal.
On February 19, a designated MP/MLA court in the state had summoned Shah to appear either personally or through a lawyer before it on February 22 in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Abhishek Banerjee.
The court at Bidhannagar in North 24 Parganas directed Shah to appear in person or through a lawyer at 10 am on February 22.
The judge directed that Shah or his lawyer should reply to a charge of defamation under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Abhishek Banerjee’s lawyer Sanjay Basu had said Amit Shah had made defamatory comments against Banerjee on August 11, 2018 at a rally of the BJP at Mayo Road in Kolkata.
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