What is coal pilferage case?
New Delhi, Feb 22: The political temperature in the poll-bound West Bengal seems to be on the rise over CBI summons to TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee's wife in coal pilferage scam. The move has triggered a political slugfest with the TMC accusing the BJP of pursuing political vendetta and the saffron party urging it not to politicise the matter.
On Sunday, a CBI team went to the Kolkata residence of Abhishek Banerjee, TMC MP and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew, serving a notice to his wife and his sister-in-law to join the probe in the coal pilferage case.
Leading the party's assault against the saffron party, Mamata Banerjee said they can't be cowed by such tactics.
'Don't try to intimidate us with jail; we have fought against guns and are not afraid of fighting against rats,' a fuming TMC supremo said at an event soon after the CBI action.
Challenging the saffron camp without naming them, the feisty TMC boss said they have not learnt to lose.
Just hours after the summons was served, Abhishek, in a tweet, said, 'If they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed.
'We have full faith in the law of the land,' he said, attaching a copy of the CBI notice in the tweet.
What is coal pilferage case?
The coal pilferage case dates back to November 2020. The CBI is investigating the theft of coal from the mines of Eastern Coalfields Ltd.
The probe agency had registered an FIR against Manjhi alias Lala, Eastern Coalfield Ltd General Managers Amit Kumar Dhar (of then Kunustoria area now Pandaveswar area) and Jayesh Chandra Rai (Kajor area) besides ECL Chief of Security Tanmay Das, Area Security Inspector, Kunustoria Dhananjay Rai and SSI and security in-charge Kajor area Debashish Mukherjee.
It is alleged that Manjhi is involved in illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, they said.
The CBI acted on information from "reliable sources" that indicated illegal excavation and theft of coal in the leasehold area of ECL in "connivance" with officials of ECL, CISF and Railways.
The notices served to Rujira and Menaka Gambhir has intensified the tense mood prevailing in the poll-bound Bengal.
Is Rujuira Bannerjee an accused in the case?
The name of Rujira Banerjee, the wife of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee is not mentioned in the FIR. The officials of ECL, including its security staff, apart from unknown officials of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Indian Railways are named as accused.
"Information received from reliable sources has revealed that illegal excavation and theft of coal is being done by criminal elements from the leasehold area of ECL in active connivance of the officials of ECL, CISF, Indian Railways and concerned other departments," the CBI FIR has said.
So, why has she and her sister been summoned?
According to the reports, Rujuira and Menaka have been summoned as their names cropped up during investigations. However, there is no official confirmation about their role in the case.
The TMC has alleged that development came a day before a designated MP/MLA court summoned Union Home Minister Amit Shah in West Bengal in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek.
"Just because their leader Amit Shah has been summoned in a defamation case and his scheduled date of appearance is on February 22. That is why the BJP is now using the CBI to divert attention and is pursuing vendetta politics," TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said.
BJP's rise in Bengal
The BJP has emerged as the ruling Trinamool Congress's main rival by winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal 2019 general elections, only four short of TMC's tally of 22.
With the BJP's strength increasing in the state in the last few years, its leaders are upbeat that the party will be able to end Banerjee's 10-year rule in the state polls.
Election to the 294-member state Assembly is due in April-May this year.