The CBI is conducting searches at the home of West Bengal Justice Minister Moloy Ghatak in Asansol on Wednesday in connection with his alleged involvement in a case of smuggling coal from a coalfield in the state.
Sources said six CBI officers from Kolkata visited the Ghatak residence, where CRPF personnel were also deployed. The Central Bureau of Investigation is also conducting raids in seven other locations in the state, including Asansol and Kolkata, they added.
This comes as another blow to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, as Ghatak is not just the PWD and State Law Minister but a top party leader. Ghatak has already been summoned several times by the Directorate of Execution (ED) for questioning.
Several TMC leaders, including the party’s national general secretary and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, are on central agencies’ radar in connection with the charcoal smuggling scam. Abhishek Banerjee has been questioned by the ED on several occasions as part of its investigation into the coal smuggling scam.
In November 2020, the CBI registered a case in relation to the coal smuggling scam, alleging multi-crore coal theft from the Eastern Coalfields mines in Kunustoria and Kajora regions of West Bengal. The ED had then filed a complaint under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA), based on the November 2020 FIR registered by the CBI.
ED filed its first indictment in the coal smuggling case at a special court in Delhi in August last year, naming the brother of TMC chief and businessman Vinay Mishra, Vikas , and the former officer in charge of the Bankura police station, Ashok Mishra, as the first defendant. The indictment, however, does not mention the name of Abhishek Banerjee.
Eight Indian Police Service (IPS) officers stationed in West Bengal were recently summoned to Delhi by the ED for questioning.