Kolkata: The CBI on Sunday, February 21, served a notice to the wife of TMC leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee at his Kolkata residence asking her to join the probe in the coal pilferage case, a development that could further raise the political temperature in poll-bound West Bengal.
The assembly elections are due in April-May in Bengal. The BJP has launched a vigorous campaign to oust the ruling TMC that had secured consecutive wins in 2011 and 2016 under Mamata Banerjee.
Abhishek, who is a two-time Lok Sabha member, wields considerable influence in the party and has been leading the Trinamool Congress’ counter-attack. He has also been the focal point of BJP’s pre-poll strikes, with several BJP leaders alleging he is corrupt.
Reacting to the summons, Abhishek has said he will not be intimidated.
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
Trinamool Congress too has hit out at the Centre, alleging political vendetta.
“So predictable. So desperate. All BJP allies have left them. So the only loyal allies are CBI and ED. The CBI is the only ally of the BJP left,” the party said.
The CBI has claimed that Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee’s bank account has witnessed questionable transactions, which the central agency realised while investigating the case.
The team is likely to question Rujira in connection with the case at her residence, local media has reported. Rujira will reportedly not be required to go the Nizam Palace offices of the CBI. CBI served the notice under the CrPC’s Section 160.
The central probe agency had on Friday carried out a fresh round of searches in connection with the case, it has been reported.
The CBI had registered an FIR in November last year against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket, one Manjhi alias Lala, along with Eastern Coalfield Ltd general managers Amit Kumar Dhar (of then Kunustoria area now Pandaveswar area) and Jayesh Chandra Rai (Kajor area).
ECL Chief of Security Tanmay Das, area security inspector Kunustoria Dhananjay Rai and SSI and security in-charge Kajor area Debashish Mukherjee were also named in FIR.
“It is alleged that accused Manjhi Lala is involved in the illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas,” the CBI has said, according to PTI.
On February 19, 2021, an MP/MLA court had issued summons to Union home minister Amit 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 in 2018.
(With PTI inputs)