Kolkata, Dec 17: West Bengal minister Madan Mitra, arrested in connection with the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam, on Tuesday accused the CBI of pressuring him to take the name of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the scam even as a city court denied him bail and extended his custody till December 19.
Mitra, a top Trinamool Congress leader and Banerjee's close associate, was presented before the court of chief judicial magistrate (Alipore) Haradhan Mukherjee amid heavy security during the day on expiry of the earlier remand given to him by the court till December 13.
Seeking Mitra's custody for five more days in order to interrogate him further, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lawyer PS Dutta said the investigators have come across digital records which are vital for investigation.
"To corroborate our findings, we need Madan Mitra's voice sample to send it for testing at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory," he argued.
On the other hand, Mitra's counsel sought bail claiming he was ill.
There was some drama as Mitra suddenly stood up and sought permission from the court to say a few words and then alleged that the interrogators were forcing him to utter the names of his party leadership including the chief minister.
"I am being pressured to name my party leaders. The interrogators are telling me to say that Mamata Banerjee has taken money. I have been mentally tortured by the CBI sleuths," Mitra told the court.
Mitra also claimed he was being hounded by nearly 50 CBI officers at a time, who were forcibly trying to collect his voice sample.
"All the time, four officers with their faces covered are mentally harassing me. When they are not getting me to say what they want, I am being hounded by 50 of their men. Am I a thief or a dacoit?" he said.
Citing his "fragile" health, Mitra urged the court not to extend his CBI custody and grant him bail.
"I have high cholesterol, and I am also undergoing psychiatric treatment. I am also suffering from urine infection. You are free to give me any punishment but please do not send me to CBI custody. They are trying to kill me mentally," he said.
Urging the court to grant him bail, Mitra said he was a minister and a responsible citizen with his family staying in the city since 1885.
"I will not abscond. Where will I go from here?" he asked.
After hearing the prosecution and the defence, the court denied bail to the minister for the second time and extended his CBI custody by three more days.
The judge, however, denied permission to the CBI for taking his voice sample.
Police, acting on a letter from the CBI, beefed up security in the court.
Following a ruckus created by Trinamool activists during Saturday's court hearing, the CBI wrote to the city Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha and his Bidhannagar counterpart Rajeev Kumar, requesting adequate security measures be taken when Mitra is driven to the court in areas under their purview.
To prevent the recurrence of any such incident, a sufficient number of security personnel was deployed with the entire court premises barricaded and police manning the entry and exit points, said a police officer.
Mitra was arrested on December 12 by the CBI, which is probing the scam following a Supreme Court order, on various charges including conspiracy and misappropriation of funds.
Led by Banerjee, also the party supremo, the ruling Trinamool has been staging rallies and marches to protest the arrest as well as to show solidarity with Mitra.