West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi held a video conference late Sunday night with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the developments following the CBI-police face-off in Kolkata after a CBI team reached Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s residence to investigate him in connection with the chit fund scam.
Tripathi is also said to have summoned the state’s chief secretary, the director general of police and home secretary to Raj Bhavan on Monday in this connection.
The Kolkata Police personnel and officials of the CBI reportedly entered into a scuffle outside Rajeev Kumar’s official residence on Loudon Street after the latter arrived there to question the top cop. Following the CBI-police face-off, the central agency said it would move the Supreme Court. It said investigation in the ponzi scam cases were being hindered and officers were harassed.
Quoting CBI sources, news reports said the agency would move the Supreme Court on Monday to present their case.
“We are in touch with legal advisers on this. It’s a Supreme Court ordered probe and every authority is supposed to follow the directions of the honourable court. We can move the Supreme Court on Monday,” a senior officer, who did not wish to be quoted, told IANS.
Interim CBI chief M Nageswara Rao was quoted by news agency ANI as
saying: “There is evidence against him (Rajeev Kumar). He has been instrumental in causing destruction of evidence and obstructing justice.”
The drama started on Sunday afternoon when a team of 40-odd CBI officers reached Kumar’s residence, and a team of Kolkata Police officers rushed there to enquire if they had the documents required to question the CP.
Later, a small team of CBI officials was taken to the Shakespeare Sarani police station for further discussions. Soon, more CBI men arrived at the Loudon Street home of Rajeev Kumar and a commotion ensued. Some CBI men were then bundled into police jeeps and taken to the police station.
While Rajeev Kumar is likely to speak to the media today, a senior Kolkata Police officer told reporters Sunday: “They told us that they were CBI officers and when asked to produce documents, they failed to submit these. They could not give us any satisfactory response.”
The CBI, however, refuted the claim. An official said they had all the requisite documents.
“No one is in detention. We were not given any cooperation and have all the documents. Our officers came for the operations and we were taken to a police station forcibly. We sought police protection which was denied. They did not accept any request. We are intending to submit an application but they were not ready to accept it,” he said.
In a retaliatory move, a team of Kolkata Police cordoned off the CGO Complex in Salt Lake area, the state headquarters of CBI.
“I have also been detained and there are police officers standing outside my house,” CBI Joint Director Pankaj Srivastava said.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Pravin Tripathi however said the CBI officers had been let go after questioning.
Srivastava added: “They (the team) went there after completing all the legal requirements and they (city police) should have cooperated. Over last two years, we have been giving notices to police officers who were investigating in these (ponzi scheme) cases before the Supreme Court handed over the cases to us.”
With recently appointed CBI Director R K Shukla yet to take charge, the agency does not have a full time chief in Kolkata at present. The absence of the director was felt as there was no one to take a call in such a politically sensitive matter.
The CBI is probing cases such as illegal mining case and the Saradha scam in which it was seeking to question the Kolkata police chief. The cases allegedly involve opposition leaders. The probe was handed over to the CBI by the Supreme Court.
Srivastava alleged that several primary evidence were missing, adding they were either “destructed” or “contrived”.
“So we wanted to question these people about where evidence has gone…for the last two years, the investigation in these were being interfered into and our officers were called to police stations for different cases and they were questioned and harassed. A lot of intimidation has been going on,” he said.
After the CBI-police face-off, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, began a sit-in in front of the Metro Cinema to protest “insults” faced at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. She accused both the BJP leaders of orginising a “coup” on West Bengal.
Banerjee said the government wanted to impose President’s rule in all the states ruled by an opposition party.
She claimed that the CBI went to Kumar without a search warrant.
“I can assure….I am ready to die but I am not ready to bow down before the Modi government and we won’t allow imposition of Emergency…please save India, save democracy, save the Constitution,” she said.
Banerjee asked all opposition parties to unite to bring down the Modi government and also called upon personnel of security forces of the Centre and states, besides the Army, to “condemn” the Modi government’s attitude.
“Law and order is a state subject and an SIT has been formed by the state government headed by Mr Rajeev Kumar. It was the officers of the SIT who arrested the chit fund defaulters and under a judicial commission, headed by a retired judge, we have returned about Rs 300 crore to the investors of the chit fund. The CBI was not doing anything for all these years since the case started in 2013. Now when one month is left for Lok Sabha polls, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval are sending CBI to harass a democratically elected government,” she said at a press conference.
She added: “I run an administration and it is my personal responsibility and duty to protect the members of the administration. We respect the Central agencies but they should show us the same amount of respect. Today’s incident points to a complete breakdown of constitutional machinery. People in Bengal will not tolerate such injustice.”
The CM said the BJP would be slapped in a democratic way through the election. “We have tolerated such excesses committed by the CBI before, including putting Sudip Bandhopadhyay in jail. What about BJP members such as Babul Supriyo and Locket Chatterjee who were also involved in chit fund cases? Why have they been spared? It is a selective attack,” she said.
Opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, have extended support to Mamata Banerjee.
(With agency inputs)