BJP leader Juhi Chowdhury, who was arrested for her alleged link to a child trafficking racket in West Bengal and sent to 12 days CID custody, has named some “influential political personalities” during her grilling, a CID source said on Thursday.
“Juhi is being interrogated about her alleged involvement in the child trafficking racket. She has mentioned the names of some influential political personalities during interrogation which we cannot reveal right now for the sake of the investigation,” said an officer of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
The officer also confirmed that Chowdhury would be interrogated together with prime accused Chandana Chakraborty for clarity in the case.
“We would interrogate them together as well as separately as we need the corroboration and contradiction from both of them,” he added.
Chowdhury, a former leader of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahila Morcha (women’s wing) in Jalpaiguri district, was arrested by the CID on Tuesday night from Batasia area, close to the India-Nepal border in Darjeeling and was sent by a court to 12 days CID custody on Wednesday.
Following the court order, the BJP removed her from the post of the state secretary of the Mahila Morcha.
“Chowdhury went to Delhi with a woman accused of child trafficking without the party’s consent. She has been removed from her post in BJP as her activity is harmful for the party’s image,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.
According to sources, Chowdhury fled to a relative’s house in Nepal for a few days to escape from the investigating agency before returning to the village near the Indo-Nepal border.
CID sleuths are also looking for her father Rabindranarayan Chowdhury, a local BJP leader who looked after Juhi’s financial transactions.
Chowdhury’s arrest came after Chandana Chakraborty, arrested earlier in the same scandal, blamed her for wrongdoing and accused the BJP leader of negotiating with political heavyweights in Delhi about her child adoption centre.
“Juhi assured me she would sort out all the issues. She might have talked to (BJP leaders) Roopa Ganguly and Kailash Vijayvargiya. I was sitting in a separate room. We are innocent. We will definitely help in the investigation,” Chakraborty alleged. Both Ganguly and Vijayvargiya have rubbished the charges.
The state BJP leadership, which conceded that the party was “under some discomfort” after the young leader’s arrest, said it would not take her side if she is found guilty.
CID’s additional director general Rajesh Kumar, meanwhile, claimed Chowdhury was directly involved in trafficking of newborn children.
However, Chowdhury claimed she was “innocent”. “I am innocent. They can’t prove me guilty,” she told the media.
CID sources said the agency has recovered from fellow accused Manas Bhowmik – who was arrested last month -- a diary with detailed entries about Chowdhury’s connection with traffickers.
According to the diary, Chowdhury accompanied prime accused and Jalpaiguri-based child adoption centre Bimala Sishu Griho chairperson Chandana Chakraborty to Delhi on February 2 and met BJP general secretary Vijayvargiya.
Chakraborty is now in custody along with her aide Sonali Mondal for selling at least 17 children through shady adoption deals.
Vijayvargiya cast aspersions on the police action and advocated a central agency probe.
“I have no trust in the police investigation. In pursuance of a conspiracy, one after the other leaders of our party are being falsely implicated and arrested. We do not trust this (Bengal) government nor their police.
“This government and their police can go to any extent. So, we would like to see the matter being probed by a central agency,” he said.
Actor-turned-BJP MP Roopa Ganguly said those who are levelling such “detestable charges” against her “and a young girl like Juhi Chowdhury” would have to pay for it.