- Abhishek Banerjee's wife was questioned in a coal smuggling case
- Rujira Banerjee wrote to CBI yesterday she was ready for questioning
- "I am unaware of the reason for me being called," she said
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today made an unscheduled visit to her nephew Abhishek Banerjee's home before the CBI questioning of his wife in a coal smuggling case.
The Chief Minister met with her nephew, a Trinamool Congress MP, and his family for less than 10 minutes before emerging from the apartment accompanied by Abhishek Banerjee's daughter - her grand-niece. The girl was seen going back inside.
Moments after Mamata Banerjee's convoy left, a CBI team of around seven-eight officers arrived to question Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Banerjee.
Rujira Banerjee wrote to the CBI yesterday that she was "unaware of the reason of questioning" but said she as ready for questioning today.
"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 wrote.
Abhishek Banerjee alleges that he is being targeted by the BJP ahead of the state elections and shared the notice the CBI left for his wife at their home on Sunday.
In a tweet targeted at the BJP-led centre, he 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".
Hours after the CBI went to Abhishek Banerjee's house on Sunday, Mamata Banerjee said 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 intimidation. 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? 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."
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
Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no direct reference to the coal scam or the CBI or Mamata Banerjee's nephew, also derided by the BJP as "bhaipo" or 'bhatija" (nephew). Instead, he launched a broad-based attack on what he called corruption and appeasement by Mamata Banerjee's party.
Former Trinamool minister Suvendu Adhikari, now with the BJP, however, launched a vicious attack on him, saying, "This only the beginning. More will come. The Trinamool was boating of Duare Sarkar...or govt at your door. Now it is a case of Duare CBI or CBI at your door."
Mr Adhikari , at a public rally on February 2, had accused Abhishek Banerjee's wife - he used her maiden name to call her "Madam Naroola" -- of operating a bank account in Thailand where huge amounts of money were allegedly transferred by kingpins of the illegal coal mining and theft scam.
The CBI says it is investigating allegations that leaders of the Trinamool Congress were paid kickbacks by the illegal coal mining mafia. Abhishek Banerjee's sister-in-law Menaka Gambhir was questioned for three hours at her South Kolkata apartment yesterday.
The CBI filed a case on 27 November last year into 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 the coal theft case to the bank accounts of these two members of the Abhishek Banerjee family.
On 31 December, the CBI conducted raids on.the homes of Vinay Mishra, the general secretary of the Trinamool's youth wing that is headed by Abhishek Banerjee. Vinay Mishra has been missing since.
The BJP accuses Abhishek Banerjee, the MP from Diamond Harbour, of involvement in the coal scam and has often referred to him as the "coal thief".
The Trinamool says the BJP is misusing the CBI to pressure the Chief Minister and her family in the acrimonious run-up to the West Bengal elections due by May.