This Article is From Sep 11, 2022

Relative Of Trinamool's Abhishek Banerjee Summoned In Coal Smuggling Case

Maneka Gambhir, sister-in-law of Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee, was stopped at Kolkata airport before she was to fly to Bangkok and summoned for questioning

Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee's sister-in-law Maneka Gambhir has been summoned for questioning by ED


Maneka Gambhir, the sister-in-law of Trinamool Congress' national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, was stopped at Kolkata airport as she was about to travel to Bangkok yesterday. She has been summoned for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over her alleged role in a coal smuggling case. ED officials handed her the summons at the airport itself and told her to appear before the central agency tomorrow at its office in Salt Lake, Kolkata.

According to sources, this was a planned trip to Bangkok and Ms Gambhir was scheduled to return in a few days. However, as she reached the immigration counter before her flight, she was informed that she was not allowed to fly out of the country as a look-out notice had been issued against her by ED. Soon, ED officials reached the airport and handed over the summons to Ms Gambhir, who later returned home. This is the second time that Ms Gambhir has been summoned by the central agency in connection with the coal smuggling scam.

Ms Gambhir was earlier told to be present at the ED office in New Delhi on September 5, but she challenged the summons in court, saying that she should be questioned in Kolkata.

Earlier, Mr Banerjee had also been summoned to Delhi by ED over the coal smuggling probe, but the Supreme Court ordered ED to question him in Kolkata. He was questioned for seven hours on September 2 at ED's Kolkata office. Supreme Court has also granted him protection from arrest in the case and granted him permission to travel abroad.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the Union government of misusing central agencies and said the more they will target Trinamool leaders, the stronger the party will become. At a party event earlier this week, she said: "Every morning they (CBI and ED officials) wake up, take orders and decide on targeting Moloy Ghatak, Aroop Biswas, Firhad Hakim [all Trinamool ministers]. Even Abhishek's two-year-old child has made trips to the CBI office because the kid did not want to leave his mother." 

ED has been questioning Mr Banerjee and his relatives in the alleged coal smuggling probe. The agency is probing complaints of illegal coal mining and pilferage-linked money laundering related to Eastern Coalfield Limited's mines around Asansol.

Trinamool Congress says central agencies are responsible for security at the coal mines, and it is the responsibility of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to stop any theft or smuggling attempt. Taking a dig at what he claimed as the use of central agencies by the BJP-led government at the centre to harass political rivals, Mr Banerjee had referred to Mr Shah as "India's biggest Pappu" -- a term used by the BJP to ridicule Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Following Mr Banerjee's jibe at Mr Shah, Trinamool leaders started sporting T-shirts with a caricatured image of Mr Shah and 'India's biggest Pappu' printed on them.