CBI, ED raid Kolkata businessmen, others in coal smuggling scam
- The CBI earlier questioned Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in the case.
CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials were raiding multiple places in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal in connection with the multi-crore coal smuggling scam on Friday morning. Multiple teams of the CBI reached Bansdroni in south Kolkata and raided a businessman’s house and office following allegations that kickbacks used to reach the businessman, who in turn used to invest the money.
Simultaneously, multiple teams of the ED were also conducting raids, including at a chartered accountant’s office in central Kolkata and in Asansol-Durgapur, which is a coal belt.
It is alleged that illegally mined coal, worth several thousand crores of rupees, was sold in the black market over several years by a racket operating in the western parts of West Bengal where the Eastern Coalfields Limited runs several mines. The BJP has been alleging that the money from the sales was whitewashed through shell companies and siphoned into the funds of the ruling party. The BJP has also alleged that the main beneficiary of the scam was Abhishek Banerjee.
Earlier this week, the Central Bureau Investigation questioned chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in connection with the same case. Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Menaka Gambhir was also questioned.
The two prime accused in the coal smuggling scam – Anup Majhi alias Lala and TMC youth leader Vinay Mishra are now absconding. Mishra has also been named in a cattle smuggling case, which the CBI is probing.
Following the two scams, the BJP has sharpened attacks against TMC leaders targeting Abhishek Banerjee. Abhishek, however, has brushed aside charges and said publicly that he would walk to the gallows if corruption charges were proved against him.
Elections are round the corner and the BJP, which has made deep inroads in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, was now targeting to win more than 200 seats out of the 294 assembly seats in poll-bound Bengal.