TMC’s Anubrata Mondal arrested, sent to CBI custody in cattle smuggling case

Updated on Aug 12, 2022 04:47 AM IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested Trinamool Congress (TMC) strongman and its Birbhum district president, Anubrata Mondal, to question him in connection with the multi-crore cattle smuggling scam.

A special CBI court at Asansol in West Burdwan district remanded Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Anubrata Mondal in CBI custody till August 20. (ANI)
A special CBI court at Asansol in West Burdwan district remanded Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Anubrata Mondal in CBI custody till August 20. (ANI)
By, Kolkata

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested Trinamool Congress (TMC) strongman and its Birbhum district president, Anubrata Mondal, to question him in connection with the multi-crore cattle smuggling scam.

A special CBI court at Asansol in West Burdwan district later in the day remanded Mondal in CBI custody till August 20. Mondal’s lawyers sought bail saying he was unwell but it was rejected. CBI officials said Mondal will be brought to Kolkata on Thursday evening.

Mondal, 62, had earlier skipped the agency’s summons at least 10 times citing health reasons. On Wednesday, he called local government doctors to state that he was not in a position to appear before the CBI.

On Thursday morning, a CBI team comprising at least eight officers along with personnel from central paramilitary forces reached the Birbhum district president’s residence around 10am and conducted a search operation as part of the investigation. Mondal was grilled in a room on the second floor of his residence for almost an hour, an official said.

“We have arrested him for non-cooperation in the investigation into the cattle smuggling case. We have found Mr Mondal’s direct involvement in the scam. We will question him today and take necessary action as per law,” a CBI officer said.

The officer said the CBI will also question the doctor of a Bolpur hospital who prescribed Mondal bed rest for 14 days. On Tuesday, shortly after Mondal was summoned by the CBI to appear on Wednesday, four doctors from a government-run hospital at Bolpur in Birbhum were sent to his house to examine him. One of them, Dr Chandranath Adhikary, alleged before a TV channel that Mondal was not ill to the extent that he can’t face the CBI.

The officer said the CBI was also conducting raids at the residences of several of his close associates and some more people could be arrested in the case in the next few days.

Mondal’s arrest came close on the heels of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) apprehending now-suspended TMC leader and former Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee in a school jobs scam.

The ruling TMC said appropriate action will be taken at the right time. “The party will take an appropriate decision at the right time. But, we want to make it clear that TMC will not compromise on any instance of corruption,” said party MP Santanu Sen.

West Bengal minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said the ED and CBI are free to take action against anyone if the allegations are genuine but the agencies should be impartial.

“Our party follows a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to corruption. We are not defending anyone but the agencies should treat all suspects equally. No move has been made against the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in the Saradha and Narada cases although he is an accused,” Bhattacharya said.

The BJP alleged that Mondal’s arrest proved that the ruling party was neck-deep in corruption, and demanded a statement from chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

“It is time the CM comes out with a statement on the arrest of Mondal. We all know he is close to the top TMC leadership,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.

“The arrest of Chatterjee and now Mondal is an example of the much-hyped Bengal development model,” BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar added.

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty claimed that Mondal considered himself above the law in Birbhum district and the TMC leadership “turned a blind eye to his misdeeds”.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary said the arrest of Mondal showed how deep-rooted corruption was in the TMC.

The CBI and ED are probing coal and cattle smuggling cases which are connected to Birbhum district, where Mondal’s writ used to run large.

CBI and ED officials claim that the coal and cattle smuggling operations were carried out simultaneously by the same set of people and suspect Mondal’s role in both the scams. A CBI official identified Mondal as the main culprit behind cattle smuggling across the border to Bangladesh from Birbhum.

Cattle seized by the BSF was undervalued and auctioned with the help of some customs officers so that traders could buy these at very low prices and legally sell it again in Bangladesh, says the CBI’s FIR in the case. Part of the sale proceeds allegedly went to some TMC leaders and government officers, the CBI has alleged.

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