NEW DELHI, KOLKATA: With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dharna entering the second day, the drama over blocking a CBI team that wanted to question Kolkata Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar over a ponzi scam continued to hold centrestage, with the agency telling the Supreme Court its officers were threatened and held hostage while they were on the job.
For her part, Mamata stuck to her guns, saying “I am willing to give my life for Kumar.” And the entire Opposition rallied around her, blaming the Centre for malicious and politically charged action in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, using the CBI as a tool. They agreed to meet in Delhi on Tuesday to strategise on floor coordination in Parliament.
In Kolkata, flanked by Kumar and top Trinamool ministers and leaders at the dharna site christened ‘Save India, Save Constitution Satyagraha’, a belligerent Mamata said her battle was not against the CBI but against the Modi-led BJP government.
The CBI wanted to question Kumar, who led a special investigation team (SIT) probing the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams in 2013, regarding missing documents and files in the case.
Since the CBI was tasked with the probe by the Supreme Court in 2014, the agency wanted the entire top hierarchy of the West Bengal bureaucracy, including Kumar, the chief secretary and the director general of police, held guilty for deliberate and wilful violation of top court’s order. The Centre also moved a contempt of court petition in the SC against the West Bengal officers.
West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi’s report to the home ministry corroborated the CBI’s version. It said not only were the CBI officers manhandled and their family members harassed, some important documents were snatched away.
When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the CBI had moved in to stop possible destruction of electronic evidence, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who presided over the bench, sought proof.“If you raise some evidence that the Commissioner of Police was even thinking of destroying evidence, we will come down so heavily on him, he’ll regret it,” the CJI said. The case will be heard on Tuesday.
In a counter move, the Bengal government approached the Calcutta High Court seeking action against the CBI team. The case would be heard by Justice Shivkant Prasad on Tuesday.In the Rajya Sabha, home minister Rajnath Singh said Sunday’s events suggested a constitutional breakdown in the state, warning the Centre was capable of dealing with such a situation in any part of the country.
MHA officials said the ministry was also examining the circumstances under which Kolkata IPS officials joined the dharna with the chief minister and whether it was a violation of service rules. Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress cadre enforced bandh in various districts across West Bengal. A BJP office in Bhawanipore was also vandalised.
Kani, Tejashwi at the dharna site
Mamata Banerjee’s dharna drew solidarity from the entire spectrum of the opposition, including the reticient BJD. DMK’s Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi and RJD’s de facto head Tejashwi Yadav flew into Kolkata to show support
New CBI boss to visit Kolkata soon
Amid all the confusion and confrontation, Rishi Kumar Shukla on Monday took charge as the new CBI director. He is expected to visit Kolkata within a few days
Dharna till Friday
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said her dharna will last till Friday in view of the board exams. “This demonstration will continue till February 8. Because the board examinations will start soon, we will not play loudspeakers to leave students undisturbed.”