This Article is From Sep 07, 2022

CBI Raids Bengal Law Minister In Coal Scam Case

The CBI is probing the alleged coal smuggling scam and Mr Ghatak's name has come up in the probe, officials say.

CBI Raids Bengal Law Minister In Coal Scam Case

The CBI alleges that alleged illegally mined coal was sold in the black market.

New Delhi:

Amid nationwide uproar by Opposition parties over alleged misuse of central investigation agencies, the CBI, aided by a huge contingent of central paramilitary personnel, is today searching premises linked to West Bengal Minister Moloy Ghatak in the alleged coal pilferage case. The agency raided three houses of Mr Ghatak in Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman district and one in Lake Gardens area of Kolkata.

The CBI also conducted searches at four different places in Kolkata in connection with the scam. Mr Ghatak, the Asansol Uttar MLA, has appeared once before Enforcement Directorate officers at its Delhi office for questioning in the case.

He, however, has skipped several other summonses of the ED in connection with the alleged scam.

The ED has lodged a case under the anti-money laundering law based on a November 2020 FIR registered by the CBI that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Limited mines in the state's Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol. The CBI alleges that illegally mined coal, worth several thousand crores, was sold in the black market over several years by a racket operating in the western parts of West Bengal where the Eastern Coalfields Limited runs several mines.

Abhishek Banerjee, the National General Secretary of Trinamool, was also questioned by the ED for eight hours last Friday in connection with the case. He said all these coal mines are guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force, an agency that reports to the union Home Ministry. He had launched a scathing attack on Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP right after his questioning, accusing the Centre of misusing central agencies for political gains.

The ED has also summoned eight Indian Police Services officers posted in West Bengal to New Delhi for questioning in the coal smuggling case. Mr Banerjee hit out at the Centre saying instead of questioning officers of the CISF, who are in charge of security there, officers of the state police are being harassed.

Several Trinamool leaders have been in the crosshair of central agencies ever since the BJP suffered a drubbing in the West Bengal assembly elections last year. 

Former state minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested in July by the ED for his alleged involvement in the school recruitment scam, and the CBI arrested the party's Birbhum chief Anubrata Mondal in August in connection with the smuggling of cattle.