Even as the CBI desperately searches for top Youth Trinamul Congress leader Binay Mishra across the country, including in Darjeeling district and areas near the India-Nepal border, in connection with a coal pilferage scam, officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), have picked up one Bama De, a key ‘handler’ of Anup Majhi, alias Lala, from Siliguri area yesterday.

According to sources, the CBI interrogated De at Nizam Palace in Kolkata today and managed to get “many important information” on a group of political leaders, police and other administrative officials, who have been allegedly involved in the scam since the past many years. “CBI sleuths have come to know that De used to distribute a huge amount of money among them, including Binay Mishra, who is in hiding,” a source said.

Sources added that CBI officials have also come to know that De used to supply huge amounts of money from Majhi to top political leaders, through Mishra, every week. Political observers in the state feel that the CBI will be able to reach out to many others, who are allegedly involved in the coal scam and illegal mining.

“This could be another headache for both Abhishek Banerjee and Mamata Banerjee,” one observer said today.

Notably, CBI officials recently grilled Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in connection with a huge amount of money, which was transferred to bank accounts in foreign countries. It may be mentioned here that BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, the former state transport minister, has been publicly claiming that the involvement of Banerjee will be proven after the CBI is able to interrogate Binay Mishra.

Sources said several officials and political leaders from Asansol to North Bengal districts allegedly received huge kickbacks even as they helped the illegal coal business and allowed coal-laden lorries to pass through National Highway-34 and 31 in this region.

“Police here used to demand huge sums of money for allowing smuggling, even to other countries, including Nepal, to meet the huge demand in the neighbouring country,” a political source said.

“As a result, this region was familiar to those persons who handled the matter on behalf of Majhi. It is learnt that Mishra lived in undisclosed hideouts in this region, close to the Indo-Nepal border, to evade CBI officials,” another source said, adding that CBI sleuths had been tracking those handlers, including Mishra. “The sleuths have, however, not been able to trace Mr Mishra’s location,” the source added.

When contacted, Inspector General of Police, North Bengal, Vishal Garg said: “Let the CBI examine the person arrested from Siliguri. I would not like to comment on it. The CBI will comment on the matter.”