"Bombs May Have Been Planted": Trinamool After CBI Raids Sandeshkhali

This comes after the CBI recovered foreign-made weapons and ammunition in its raids on hideouts linked to suspects in the case, following which NSG teams were deployed.

'Bombs May Have Been Planted': Trinamool After CBI Raids Sandeshkhali

Teams of NSG commandos were deployed in Sandeshkhali last evening after arms were found (File)

New Delhi:

Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress has now knocked on the doors of the Election Commissioner with an official complaint against the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, accusing it of "throttling" the Opposition's, including its own, campaigns at a time when elections are on. The letter of complaint was sent last evening.

This comes after the Bengal government moved the Supreme Court on Friday against a Calcutta High Court order directing a CBI probe into allegations of extortion, land grab, and sexual assault from Sandeshkhali against now-suspended Trinamool leader, Sheikh Shahjahan, and his aides. The Supreme Court move followed the CBI's raids on hideouts linked to suspects in the case.

The federal agency recovered foreign-made weapons and ammunition, following which teams of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were deployed to the spot.

The party said there is "no way of knowing with certainty" if the weapons allegedly retrieved in the searches were "surreptitiously planted by the CBI/NSG".

"Your office has turned a blind eye while Central probe agencies continue to wreak havoc across the nation, especially during the election period," the party's complaint to the poll body read.

"Today, i.e. 26.04.2024, is the day earmarked as the polling day for Phase II of the ensuing Lok Sabha Elections, 2024. More specifically in West Bengal, the electorate was scheduled to vote in three
Parliamentary Constituencies, which are, Darjeeling, Raiganj, and Balurghat. While elections were going on, the CBI deliberately carried out an unscrupulous raid at an empty location in Sandeshkhali. Media reports suggest that the CBI called in additional forces including the bomb squad of the National Security Guard (NSG). It has also been reported that arms and ammunition have been recovered from
a house during such raid," the letter said.

"... though 'law and order' is a domain falling completely within the ambit of the state government, the CBI did not issue an actionable notice to the state government and/or the police authorities before carrying out such a raid. Further, the state police has a fully functional bomb disposal squad which could have assisted the entire operation, if the CBI indeed felt that a bomb squad was required during such a raid. However, no such assistance was sought by the CBI.

"It is astonishing to notice that media personnel were already present during such the raid even before the state administration arrived at the spot. At such point in time, it was already nationwide news that weapons had been recovered during the raid. There is no way of knowing with certainty, as to whether these weapons were indeed recovered during the search and seizure procedure or whether they were surreptitiously planted by the CBI/NSG," it alleged.

The TMC accused the CBI of "deliberately" informing the media "well in advance so that there is nationwide odium and contempt against the AITC and its candidates during the present election period".

"Media was fed with false information that the location belonged to an
AITC supporter. Nothing has been proven in a court of law, however, the CBI has notoriously instrumentalised the media to spread this rumour. Hence ensuring, that a negative campaign is run against AITC not only during a polling day when the electors watch such news before casting their votes but also during the entire election period as a whole."

"The BJP compromised the sanctity of the ensuing elections by spreading a sense of terror amongst the electorate, thereby attempting to gain an undue advantage..." it further said.

The party has urged the poll commission to issue immediate guidelines whereby political parties and functionaries are not acted against by any central investigating agency, including the CBI, during the period of elections and issue immediate directions to the agencies and the media to remove all references to AITC in their reporting.

The Sandeshkhali row broke after Shahjahan's supporters set upon an ED team on their way to conduct searches related to a separate case. ED officials were hurt in the attack following which, the Trinamool strongman went on the run. He managed to evade the cops for nearly two months until his arrest in March.