Kolkata Police Commissioner’s questioning prevented; CBI to move SC today; Rahul, Kejriwal extend support to Bengal CM
A high drama played out in Kolkata on Sunday evening which saw a virtual showdown between the CBI and the West Bengal Police after a posse of Central investigating agency officers — probing Sharada and Rose Valley chit fund cases — descended at the residence of Kolkata Commissioner of Police Rajiv Kumar for questioning. However, the police prevented the CBI officers’ entry and whisked them away to a local police station releasing them later on.
The incident has triggered the Opposition tirade against the Modi Government for the alleged misuse of the CBI to grind political axe, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sitting on dharna and political parties, including Congress, expressing solidarity with her.
The incident started around 6 pm when about 35 CBI officials descended at the Kolkata Police Commissioner’s residence apparently to interrogate Kumar for his role during the investigation of the chit fund cases. The CBIofficials claimed that they were stopped and forcibly whisked away by a large number of policemen. However, the State police claimed that the CBI had been barred from action by the High Court till February 13.
“When we showed them the documents they refused to cooperate and give us police help. Not only this, they also refused to receive a letter we wanted to hand them over from our end,” said a CBI Deputy SP said.
Kolkata joint director of CBI P Srivastav said that the Central forces had been posted on an emergency basis at senior CBI officers’ residences and CGO complex and Nizam Palace housing CBI offices “for safety of the officers and their families.”
CBI interim Director M Nageswara Rao said that “civilians have surrounded the offices in Kolkata and we fear that chit fund probe documents will be destroyed”. The agency has decided to move the Supreme Court against the West Bengal Government.
In protest against the raid, Mamata embarked on an indefinite Satyagraha alleging Central highhandedness and murder of federal democratic norms.
Extending support to Mamata, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday night called her up and said “the entire Opposition is together and it will defeat the fascist forces.” He alleged the events in West Bengal were part of an unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.
Rashtriya Janata Dal national president Lalu Prasad, National Conference president Omar Abdullah and the Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader, Arvind Kejriwal, too have extended support to Mamata. Kejriwal said, “Spoke to Mamata didi and expressed solidarity. Modi-Shah duo’s action is completely bizarre and anti-democracy.”
Omar tweeted, “Just spoke to @MamataOfficial didi to convey the support of @JKNC_ as she sits in dharna. The use of the CBI as a political tool has crossed all limits as has the Modi Government’s misuse of institutions. A former CM having such little regard for India’s federalism is shocking.”
In a blistering attack on Modi for subverting federal democratic norms a furious Mamata said, “After failing to tackle the Trinamool Congress politically, the BJP and Modi has let loose CBI on us. There is a clear indication that Ajit Doval is giving instruction to CBI to play the mischief at the instance of Modi.”
The CBI had earlier told the Supreme Court that a laptop, five mobile phones, and some other documents were seized by the State appointed SIT headed by Kumar from the Sharada chit fund office in 2013. However, the State police was yet to hand over the said evidences. The CBI took over the investigation a year later following a apex court order.
Joint Commissioner (Crime) of Kolkata Police Praveen Tripathi rejected the CBI claims saying, “Those who came had no proper papers supporting their claims. They only said that they had come on a secret operation.”
Elsewhere at historic Metro Channel where Mamata as an Opposition leader had undertaken a 26-day fast during the Singur movement, she sat on a dharna after emerging from the residence of Rajiv’s Loudan Street residence where she rushed in earlier along with the State Police DG Virendra. Mamata said she would run the Cabinet from the dharna site from Monday.
Before starting the sit-in which she called a “satyagraha” Mamata told in a statement that could have future bearings, “I will ask all the police forces of all the States and the Central forces to stay united and condemn this affair.”
Modi and Amit Shah were jointly torturing Bengal, she added. “The way these two persons are trying to provoke a coup after the massive response we got in January 19 Brigade rally is condemnable,” Mamata said, adding, “It is strange that Modi came yesterday and threatened something from a rally and today the CBI was unleashed. I feel ashamed to talk to this Prime Minister.”
The TMC chief added, “I am ready to die but I will never submit to their (BJP) dictatorial ways.”
Banerjee said that the BJP “knows that its expiry date has come and so they are taking this strong arm tactics to humiliate a police chief,” adding the CBI was “not only disturbing me but also victimising thesenior citizen who supplies tea in my residence. I am in this dharna to save the democracy, constitution and the state police.”
Attacking the Modi Government for targeting the Trinamool Congress with a particular motive she wondered “why the Indian cricket and football teams are not being investigated as they were also sponsored by the Sahara group. Why Babul Supriyo or the Assam Dy Chief Minister are not being interrogated. Why they are torturing and humiliating an honest and able officer like Rajiv Kumar!”
Incidentally K Nageshwar Rao from Delhi alleged the CP was “instrumental” in destroying evidence. Meanwhile political showing solidarity leaders from Ahmed Patel of the Congress, Akhilesh Yadav of the SP and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called up Banerjee and enquired about the incident, TMC sources said even TMC workers had started rail-roko in various parts of the State.
Monday, 04 February 2019 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata
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