Kolkata: A politician in Bengal who was expelled from the BJP earlier this year was arrested with six others in Kolkata with bundles of cash amounting to Rs 33 lakh. Police say most of the cash was in brand new 2,000 rupee notes.
- Manish Sharma was arrested with 6 others in Kolkata; cops tracked mobiles
- Mr Sharma was allegedly close to Union Minister Babul Supriyo
- The arrested had cash and arms; TMC likely to raise issue in Parliament
Manish Sharma, who was a BJP candidate in Raniganj in the assembly polls of April-May, was arrested with Rs 10 lakh in his possession. Another Rs 23 lakh was seized from six others arrested along with him.
Sources say the group had possibly converted black or untaxed money into white in Kolkata.
The seven were arrested Monday night by a police team which was tipped off that the group was travelling in an Innova car from the Asansol-Durgapur to Kolkata with lots of cash and arms.
Raju Jha, one of the people in the group, is suspected to be part of the coal mafia in the Asansol area.
The group managed to slip past the police at the Dankuni toll plaza 30 km from Kolkata, say sources, but police traced their movement through cellphones and arrested them last night from a flat near the Kolkata airport.
Mr Sharma was allegedly close to Union Minister Babul Supriyo. "We gave him a ticket but after that when he tried to meet me, I avoided. I don't know anything about his coal mafia associations," Mr Supriyo reportedly said after Mr Sharma's arrest. Local BJP leaders have distanced themselves from him.
The arrested men were not just carrying cash, they were also carrying several improvised semi-automatics guns and a Carl Walther pistol and ammunition.
In police records, Manish Sharma - whose visiting card says "President, BJP Raniganj Mandal" - is listed as Manish Joshi whose father lives in Pune. In his voter card, his residential address is Hyderabad.
At Raniganj, local BJP leaders say Manish Sharma has had nothing to do with the party since June 30. But the Trinamool Congress is likely to raise the issue in Parliament tomorrow.
On Monday, Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of buying land just ahead of demonetisation. Earlier, there were reports that the Bengal unit of the BJP had deposited Rs 3 crore in its official bank account just before Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were scrapped.