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Abhishek Banerjee questions Delhi court order’s timing, ED’s neutrality in Bengal coal scam

Updated on Mar 20, 2022 10:24 PM IST
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and the latter’s wife, Rujira, have been summoned to the ED office in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Both had moved the Delhi high court, seeking permission to face the agency in Kolkata.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Sunday left for the national capital to face the Enforcement Directorate. (ANI PHOTO.)

It cannot be a coincidence that the Delhi high court quashed his appeal for not appearing before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Delhi in the Bengal coal smuggling case after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the assembly polls in four states, Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee alleged on Sunday before flying to the national capital to face the probe agency.

“I will see where this ends. I moved the Delhi high court last year saying the ED cannot summon me to Delhi for questioning because the case is related to Bengal. The court heard my appeal over four months and then reserved its order for the next three months. On March 10, the BJP won the polls in four states. On March 11, the court set aside my appeal. This cannot be a coincidence. I will move the Supreme court,” Abhishek Banerjee said at the Kolkata airport.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and the latter’s wife, Rujira, have been summoned to the ED office in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Both had moved the Delhi high court, seeking permission to face the agency in Kolkata.

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Fresh summons were sent to the couple on March 15. “I received an email,” Abhishek said.

Shortly after Banerjee’s flight took off, Kolkata police officials said three Delhi-based ED officials probing the coal and cattle smuggling cases were summoned to the Kalighat police station in south Kolkata on Monday for questioning in another case.

“This relates to a telephonic conversation that took place more than a year ago between a Kolkata-based chartered accountant and an ED officer. We have received a recording of the conversation,” a Kolkata police officer said on condition of anonymity without divulging details.

ED officials said the officers have been summoned at 10 am on Monday to appear as witnesses.

Before leaving for Delhi, Abhishek Banerjee alleged that the BJP is carrying out political vendetta because it could not win the assembly and civic body polls in Bengal.

“The BJP cannot tolerate the TMC. Had the ED been neutral it would have interrogated the man who was seen accepting money in the Narada sting videos. Sudipto Sen (the owner of Saradha chit fund who is in jail custody) gave a statement to the court and named the person who took money from him. But the accused has not been questioned even once. As I said more than a year ago, If anybody can prove that I have accepted even ten paisa from anyone, I will voluntarily walk to the gallows and hang myself,” said Abhishek Banerjee.

Though he did not name anyone, Abhishek’s target was BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari who left the TMC in December 2020.

Adhikari was not available for comment but Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said his party cannot comment on the questions raised by the TMC leader.

“If he has any complaint against a court then he has to move the judiciary. We cannot comment on the Delhi high court’s order. Nor can we say anything on the summons sent by the Kolkata police to the ED. The central agency will deal with it,” said Bhattacharya.

Abhishek Banerjee is not the only person the central agencies are after in the coal scam case.

On March 16, a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at Asansol in Bengal’s West Burdwan district issued an arrest warrant in the same case against TMC’s former youth front leader and businessman Vinay Mishra who renounced his Indian citizenship in December 2020 and became a citizen of Vanuatu, a small island country in the south-west Pacific.

The CBI had prayed for the warrant, telling the court that Mishra is a prime suspect. His brother Vikas was arrested earlier by the ED and named in the agency’s first chargesheet in August last year.

The CBI and ED are conducting parallel probes into the coal smuggling.

CBI officials said that in order to execute the arrest warrant the agency will have to initiate extradition talks with the Vanuatu government. India has an extradition treaty with the Republic of Vanuatu, said an officer.

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