In more trouble for TMC, the Central Bureau of Investigation conducted raids at the house of West Bengal law minister Moloy Ghatak in Asansol. As per sources, six CBI officials from Kolkata have entered the premises which have been surrounded by the CRPF. This comes as another blow for WB CM Mamata Banerjee as Ghatak is not only the PWD and Law Minister of the state but a senior leader of the party. This raid is believed to be in connection with the coal smuggling scam, a case in which he has been summoned by the ED multiple times.
West Bengal coal scam
Based on an FIR lodged by CBI in November 2020 which alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in West Bengal’s Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol, the ED registered a case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Local coal operator Anup Majhi is believed to be the prime suspect in the case. So far, the Central agency has arrested TMC youth wing leader Vinay Mishra’s brother Vikas Mishra and Bankura police station’s former Inspector in-charge Ashok Kumar Mishra.
The ED has claimed that Majhi was running an illegal coal mining business smoothly by managing senior functionaries of a political party in West Bengal. Contending that Vinay Mishra is very close to Abhishek Banerjee, the central agency alleged that Majhi assisted in transferring substantial funds derived from the proceeds of crime to the Diamond Harbour MP’s wife and sister-in-law in London and Thailand. While Banerjee has been accused of being a beneficiary of funds obtained from the illegal coal mining business, he has denied all charges.
In August, 8 IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre including Gyanwant Singh (ADG, Special Task Force), Koteswara Rao Nalavath [SP, (HQ) ACB], Shyam Singh (DIG, Civil Defence), S Selvamurugan (Purulia SP), Rajeev Mishra (ADG & IGP, Intelligence Branch) were also summoned in this case. Both Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira have also been grilled by the ED in connection with the coal scam on many occasions. After being questioned by the ED on September 2, the TMC general secretary affirmed, “Trinamool Congress will not be cowed down, your (BJP’s) threats and theatrics mean nothing”.