KOLKATA: Causing immense unease to BJP's central and West Bengal leadership, Jalpaiguri child trafficking racket prime accused Chandana Chakraborty on Tuesday alleged that West Bengal Mahila Morcha general secretary Juhee Chowdhury lobbied with Rajya Sabha MP and Mahila Morcha President Roopa Ganguly and BJP's national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya to influence the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) of Ministry of Women and Child Development to grant Central aid to Chandana and renew licences of her shelter homes, in lieu of expensive gifts.
West Bengal Crime Investigation Department (CID) has claimed that it has audio evidence of conversation between Juhee Chowdhury and Kailash Vijayvargiya's secretary and based on Chandana's allegations, may summon Vijayvargiya and Ganguly, besides Vijayvargiya's secretary for interrogation. The agency has stated that Chandana claimed that the negotiations with the two top-level ministers were finalised by Juhee who allegedly asked Chandana to pay expensive gifts to the two top BJP leaders.
Chandana has claimed that she was also supposed to meet Union minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi along with Juhee on February 20 on three major issues which she wrote in a letter to the union minister. She sought licence renewal for her shelter home 'Ashray', retransfer of 14 children who were transferred from her home to other homes by district Child Welfare Committee after they sniffed irregularities and also sought a central aid of Rs 22.5 lakh.
CID has claimed that Chandana had already taken advance from foreigners for adoption of 3 of the 14 transferred children. CID sources also revealed that Chandana claimed during interrogation that Juhee had sought half of the central aid (around Rs 11 lakh) as her commission. CID has claimed that she fixed Maneka Gandhi's appointment with Chandana after contacting her personal assistant.
"We had sought help from Juhee to get the clearances. She gave us assurance that she would clear all our problems. She was involved with us for more than 3 years. I am now being made pawn in this game. Juhee spoke with Roopa Ganguly and Kailash Vijayvargiya for my clearances. I did not met them but was sitting in the next room," Chandana told media on Tuesday.
Registering strong opposition to Chandana's allegations, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: "Why did she take one week's time to reveal this since investigation commenced? We demand that her trustee list is revealed. We will know how many TMC people are involved."
Refuting the allegations, the party's West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya said: "I met with Juhee Chowdhury once. But, I don't know Chandana Chakraborty. CID, which is acting on behest of TMC, is hatching conspiracies against BJP leaders," Kailash said.
Meanwhile, a CID team from West Bengal has reached Delhi to search for accused BJP leader Juhee Chowdhury, who is absconding since her name cropped up in the racket.
Child racket tentacles extend to Northeast
Jalpaiguri child trafficking racket has tentacles well extended to various parts of northeastern India, West Bengal Crime Investigation Department (CID) has claimed on Tuesday.
CID stated that marathon interrogation of prime accused Chandana Chakraborty and her brother Manas Bhowmick has revealed that the duo had links with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and shelter homes in various parts of Northeastern India.
"The accused have claimed that several NGOs and shelter homes in different parts of northeast were part of the supply chain of children for Chandana and Manas. If needed, we would seek help of state investigating agencies of various northeastern states to nab the collaborators. Their interrogation will make the picture clearer," a CID official told New Indian Express.
"Primary information extracted from the accused suggests that several NGOs working among the Adivasi populace working in tea gardens of Assam may be connected to Chandana. However, the accused have also indicated that many more NGOs in other northeastern states may be linked as well," he added.
Accordingly, the CID has formed a special team to study the links of the Jalpaiguri child trafficking racket with other NGOs and shelter homes operating in north Bengal and northeastern India.
Earlier, the racket tentacles reached Darjeeling and Alipurduar districts of north Bengal and to neighbouring Sikkim. NGOs in Alipurduar alleged that over 100 children from tea gardens of the district have been sold as domestic help in the Himalayan state by falsely promising the victims' parents that their children would be admitted to convent schools
in Kalimpong district. The NGOs fear that the trafficked children of the age group 6-14 may be subjected to slavery-like conditions in Sikkim.