Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Banerjee, who was asked on Sunday to join the CBI probe in a case involving allegations of coal smuggling, today said she is "unaware of the reason of questioning". She has offered to meet the investigating officers between 11 AM and 3 PM on Tuesday.
Abhishek Banerjee is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and the summons come just months ahead of the state elections.
"Though I am unaware of the reason for me being called for questioning or the subject matter of the investigation, you may visit my residence as per your convenience between 11 AM and 3 PM tomorrow, i.e. 23 February, 2021," she said in her letter to CBI, delivered just short of 11 AM today.
"You are requested to kindly inform me your schedule," the letter further read. The CBI has accepted her request.
Amid allegations that the leaders of ruling Trinamool Congress were paid regular kickbacks from coal mafia, the agency also summoned Menaka Gambhir, the sister-in-law of Abhishek Banerjee. A team reached her South Kolkata apartment this afternoon and left after three hours of questioning.
Ms Kabir was at home yesterday as well when the CBI visited her flat to serve a notice.
The CBI notice to his wife Rujira shared publicly by Abhishek Banerjee yesterday said that she would be questioned in connection with a cold pilferage case that the CBI filed in November last year. The case was filed to probe alleged illegal mining and theft of coal from Kunustoria and Kajoria coal fields of Eastern Coalfield Limited.
According to sources in the central agency, there has been some transfer of money from accounts linked to to the coal theft case to the bank accounts of these two persons.
The money was channelled through Vinay Mishra, who is the general secretary of the Trinamool's youth wing that's headed by Abhishek Banerjee. On December 31, the CBI raided the home of Vinay Mishra, who is now on the run. The agency has issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
Yesterday, after a CBI team went to Mr Banerjee's Kolkata home to hand over the notice, the 33-year-old tweeted: "We have full faith in the law of the land".
At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down. pic.twitter.com/U0YB6SC5b8— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) February 21, 2021
For long, the BJP has accused Abhishek Banerjee, the MP from Diamond Harbour, of involvement in the coal scam. The party has dubbed him the "coal thief".
In his tweet yesterday, Mr Banerjee - without taking any names - said: "...if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down".
His aunt and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said yesterday at a public event, "Some leaders from Delhi are saying they know how to break the Bengalis' spine. Just let them try as they have tried in the past and even today."
"I am not scared of any threats or browbeating. Don't try to frighten us with threats of jail. We have overcome all that a long time ago. we who have fought against guns, why should we be afraid of fighting against rats and mice.
"I have no fear of threats and browbeating and will never fear such things. It is not so easy to break our spines. I am taught to fight like a warrior and not be scared of cats and rats."
The Trinamool views the CBI probe as police pressure tactics head of the West Bengal elections by the ruling party at the centre the BJP.
"So predictable. So desperate. All BJP allies have left them. So the only loyal allies are CBI and ED. We will fight it out. We are not scared. We believe people will give a befitting reply during voting," a source in the party said yesterday.