A day after receiving notices in connection with the coal smuggling case, Law Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials said West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and the lawmaker of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) from Baghmundi Constituency in Purulia, Sushanta Mahato, had failed to report to the central. to the agency’s Delhi office on Friday for questioning.
The two TMC executives received the summons on Thursday, less than 12 hours after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which launched the investigation in 2020, arrested two former managing directors of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) and five other company employees in Kolkata on Wednesday evening.
This is the first time the CBI has arrested central government officials in connection with the case.
Mahato emailed ED saying he was “too concerned to go to Delhi” but would meet with agency officials in Kolkata if they wished. However, ED officials said there was no communication from Ghatak until Friday afternoon.
Read also :CBI arrests 7 Eastern Coalfields staff for involvement in smuggling case
None of the TMC leaders could be contacted despite several attempts.
While Mahato, 40, was summoned for the first time, Ghatak, 66, the lawmaker from Asansol North in West Burdwan district, has been called to Delhi twice in the past. On both occasions, he spoke about the risk of traveling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is alleged that illegally mined coal worth several thousand crore rupees has been sold on the black market for several years by a racket operating in the western parts of West Bengal where ECL, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited owned by the Union Coal Department, operates several mines.
It is suspected that the proceeds of illegal coal mining and smuggling were received by TMC leaders and a section of officials from the ECL, the Central Industrial Security Force (which monitors the mines), railroads West Bengal Railway and Police.
TMC National General Secretary and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek was questioned by the ED in Delhi twice earlier this year in connection with the case. Abhishek’s wife, Rujira, his sister, and Abhishek’s husband and father-in-law were also interviewed by the CBI. Rujira was last interviewed in Kolkata on June 23 by ED.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that money from the sale of smuggled charcoal has been whitewashed by shell companies and siphoned off into ruling party funds. The BJP has also alleged that the main beneficiary is Abhishek Banerjee.
Abhishek Banerjee said on Thursday that the CBI and ED were selective in arresting people.
“Why has (BJP leader) Suvendu Adhikari not yet been questioned or arrested by the CBI in the Saradha chit fund case? Saradha owner Sudipta Sen has publicly stated that he has gave a huge amount of money to Adhikari,” the TMC MP claimed.
Adhikari has time and again denied this allegation. “None of those who received money from the coal smuggling operation can escape the agencies,” Adhikari said Friday when commenting on the CBI and ED operations.