The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested Trinamul Congress Birbhum district president, Anubrata Mondal in Asansol in connection with the cross border cattle smuggling case.
The Asansol CBI Court has sent him to ten days’ CBI custody and on 20 August he will be produced before the court. He will be taken to the CBI offices at Nizam Palace in Kolkata by road today.
At around 5 p.m. he was brought to Asansol Special CBI Court amidst protests and slogan-shouting by CPIM and BJP supporters in a convoy heavily guarded by the CRPF.
A huge police force of ADPC is also deployed at Asansol Court and the area has been cordoned off. The CBI has sought 14 days of custody. Earlier in the day at around 9.30 a.m, the CBI sleuths raided his residence at Bolpur for about one and half hours.
Over a hundred armed CRPF jawans guarded the house during the raid. The personal body guards of Anubrata Mondal were directed to go outside. Thereafter, Mr Mondal was taken to the Sitalpur Guest House of Eastern Coalfields Limited by road.
The convoy took a break at Kanksha for refuelling and refreshment at a roadside dhaba. The convoy reached Sitalpur at around 2.30 p.m. Three doctors of Sanctoria Hospital of ECL checked Mr Mondal at Sitalpur Guest House.
The sleuths grilled him for about one and half hours after which he was directed to sign his arrest memo and arrested. At the court premises, CPIM district committee member Partha Mukherjee, former BJP councillor Asha Sharma along with their supporters were present and staged an agitation.
Asansol South MLA, Agnimitra Paul also beat drums and distributed nakuldanas in Asansol. The CBI counsel told the court that already a number of documents have been seized from his house and Anubrata Mondal is not at all cooperating with the investigations and sought further custody.
The body guard of Anubrata Mondal, constable Sehgal Hussein and kingpin of the alleged cattle smuggling racket.
Mohammed Enamul Haque have both implicated Anubrata Mondal along with his close associate, Tulu Mondal, claimed CBI sleuths. Former Bolpur MP, Anupam Hazra has claimed that he will submit a list of 72 persons with whom Anubrata Mondal has allegedly deposited his money very soon to the Union home minister, Amit Shah.
The arrest of Mr Mondal is a big blow to the ruling Trinamul Congress in Birbhum District. He was the district president since late Dr. Sushobhan Banerjee resigned from his post in the early 2000s.
With the upcoming three tier gram panchayat polls next year which will be followed by the 2024 general elections, the TMC will feel his absence. Now the party will have to search for a new district president in Birbhum. Chandranath Singhya and Ashish Banerjee are the top contenders. Out of ten summons issued by CBI to appear for questioning, Anubrata Mondal turned up only once.
The CBI has also said that huge cash transactions have been found in his bank accounts. Mr Mondal’s advocate has not filed his bail petition. However he has requested to reduce the full custody appeal by CBI on account of Mr Mondal’s health situation.
The CBI has alleged that Mr Mondal control the entire cattle smuggling corridor to Bangladesh. The former BSF commandant of Malda, Satish Kumar was the first person arrested in this case. The CBI has already filed the charge sheet and three supplementary chargesheet at Asansol CBI Court.
Large properties have been amassed by people linked with Anubrata Mondal like Kerim Khan, Tulu Mondal, and Sehgal Hussein from cattle smuggling, the CBI has claimed.
Meanwhile, the Trinamul Congress leadership appeared to be distancing itself from Mondal after his arrest. Veteran TMC leader and state minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay said: “If anyone commits a crime, he or she will have to face the consequences. Again, if he (Mondal) claims innocence, the onus is on him to prove that.