Coal pilferage case: CBI carries out searches at premises of Bengal minister Moloy Ghatak

The searches are being carried out at six locations, five in Kolkata and one in Asansol, officials said on Wednesday.

Published: 07th September 2022 10:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2022 11:53 AM   |  A+A-

CBI Headquarters. (File Photo | PTI)

CBI Headquarters. (File Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: The CBI is conducting searches at the premises of West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak in connection with its probe into alleged coal pilferage from Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in Asansol, officials said on Wednesday.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths, aided by a huge contingent of central paramilitary personnel, have raided three houses of Ghatak in Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman district and two in Kolkata, they said.

The agency is also conducting searches at one of Ghatak's close associates' residence in Kolkata's Alipore area and another in Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district.

While the CBI team questioned the minister, who was present at his official quarters adjacent to Raj Bhavan in the city's Dalhousie area, another team continued searches at his Lake Gardens home.

"As his name has surfaced in the coal smuggling scam, we need to find out what was his role in it. We have evidence of Ghatak's involvement in the scam," a CBI officer told PTI.

"The state minister is present at his official accommodation. We are questioning him and trying to get answers to some specific questions," he added.

According to the official, during the raid at the minister's Asansol house, the mobile phones of his family members were taken away and they have been made to sit together in a room.

In search of documents related to the scam, if the CBI sleuths are unable to find the keys of almirahs, they are breaking them open, he added.

Meanwhile, the areas around Ghatak's residences are surrounded by central forces as the raids are going on, the official said.

Ghatak, the Asansol Uttar MLA, had appeared once before the Enforcement Directorate at its Delhi office for questioning in connection with the coal pilferage case.

He, however, skipped several other summonses of the ED in connection with the multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to the Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state's Kunustoria and Kajora areas.

The CBI had registered an FIR in November 2020 against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket, Anup Manjhi alias Lala, ECL general managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL security chief Tanmay Das, Kunustoria area security inspector Dhananjay Rai and Kajor area security in-charge Debashish Mukherjee.

Meanwhile, the ruling Trinamool Congress is planning to move a resolution in the upcoming session of the West Bengal assembly over the alleged "misuse" of central investigation agencies for "political vendetta".

The extended Monsoon Session of the assembly will begin on September 14 and is likely to continue till September 22.

"There have been discussions about bringing a resolution in the session but nothing has been finalised yet. It will be decided within the next few days, and the proposal will be placed before the Business Advisory Committee at its meeting next week," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay told PTI.

According to sources in the TMC legislative party, a resolution is being planned against the "misuse" of the central agencies as a "political tool" for vendetta.

"Not only in West Bengal, but the BJP also misuses the CBI and ED in all opposition-ruled states. The agencies have turned a blind eye to the corruption charges against the BJP leaders," a senior TMC MLA said.

In a jolt to the TMC, senior leaders Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mondal were arrested by the ED and CBI.

Chatterjee, the former education minister, was arrested by the ED in July in the school jobs scam, while Mondal who was the TMC's Birbhum district president was arrested by CBI in the cattle smuggling case last month.

The BJP said it will oppose any such resolutions in the House.

"If someone has committed no wrong, why is he afraid to face the central agency? The law will take its own course. BJP doesn't influence any investigation. We will oppose such a resolution on the floor of the House," the party's chief whip Manoj Tigga said.

India Matters


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