As the West Bengal Assembly elections draw near, it becomes increasingly clear that West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee is like an albatross around the neck of the Trinamool Congress. As Mamata’s love for her nephew triggered a mass exodus from the TMC, most notably Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee as they switched over to the BJP, now Abhishek Banerjee finds himself in deep trouble as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued summons to his wife, Rujira Banerjee in connection with coal pilferage and illegal mining.
In yet another flashpoint in the run-up to the West Bengal Assembly elections, Abhishek Banerjee’s wife, Rujira has been summoned by the CBI in connection with a case of coal pilferage and illegal mining.
“At 2 pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down,” tweeted Abhishek Banerjee.
At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down. pic.twitter.com/U0YB6SC5b8
— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) February 21, 2021
It is pertinent to note that the CBI also summoned the sister of Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira, Menaka Gambhir.
The investigation has been ongoing since last year as in November 2020, the CBI’s Kolkata Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) registered a case of corruption and criminal breach with regard to illegal mining and pilferage of coal from the leasehold area of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) in certain parts of West Bengal, reports The Indian Express.
The CBI stated that the “evidence of extensive illegal mining in the leasehold area of ECL and its transportation was found.”
The investigative agency’s FIR reads, “The team found several machineries which were used for excavating coal from illegal mining. During these inspections, a large number of vehicles and equipment used in illegal coal mining / its transportation and illegally excavated coal have been seized. Several instances of installation of illegal weigh bridges in concrete form were also detected, which confirms illegal coal mining and transportation from ECL areas in an organized manner at a very large scale.”
The CBI has also stated, “It is learnt that during departmental raids on August 7, 2020, at 1 No Railway Siding of Pandaveswar area, 9.050 MT of stolen coal was recovered and seized. Seizure of stolen coal was made from several other railway locations as well. It is learnt that this illegal activity is being run at Railway sidings by the criminals with active connivance of unknown Railway officials.”
While Abhishek Banerjee’s wife isn’t named in the CBI’s FIR, the investigative agency is reported to have gathered some evidence that has led to the summoning of Rujira and her sister, Menaka. On further investigation, the name of Vinay Mishra – a close aide of Abhishek Banerjee too surfaced. CBI summoned Vinay Mishra four times over the coal scam but he hasn’t been arrested yet.
The Indian Express also quoted a CBI official as saying, “It would be wrong to assume at this stage that they are accused. But yes, we do not summon anyone without some evidence. We are probing some financial links that lead to them. We need to question them first.”
The summons stated that Rujira had appeared before the CBI on Sunday, however, she failed to show up. On Sunday, CBI officials reached Abhishek Banerjee’s Kalighat residence but couldn’t find anyone there and left after 15 minutes while serving a notice to Rujira to question her under Section 160 of CrPC.
It seems that Amit Shah is taking the fight directly towards Mamata and her family. Didi and Bhaipo Abhishek Banerjee are on an increasingly sticky wicket and it remains to be seen which turn the investigation into the illegal mining case takes.