Kolkata, Sep 27 (IANS) BJP leader Mukul Roy, who on Friday did not appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation for questioning in connection with the sensational Narada TV sting case, said he was ready to make himself available before the sleuths on Saturday afternoon.
The CBI had on Thursday evening issued a notice to Roy asking him to be present at its Nizam Palace office on Friday. However, the former Trinamool Congress leader wrote back to the agency seeking some time to appear, citing pre-occupation with political programmes.
“According to the summons, I sent a letter to them that because of my pre-occupation, today I am not able to go. But tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon I can go,” Roy told mediapersons here.
He said on Saturday he would be performing the Hindu rituals of ‘tarpan’ (offering prayers to his ancestors on occasion of Mahalaya), while his party would also carry out such rituals for its activists who were killed in political clashes in West Bengal.
“So if they call me I can go after 2-30 p.m.,” he said.
The CBI apparently decided to summon Roy to cross-check information provided by IPS officer S.M.H. Mirza, who was arrested in the Narada TV sting case on Thursday and remanded to CBI custody till September 30.
Sources aid the CBI issued Roy a fresh summons on Friday to appear for questioning. While there were reports that he has been asked to appear on Saturday, a CBI source said: “Mukul Roy had been summoned to appear on Friday. He did not come today. Mirza has been remanded to CBI custody till September 30. So Mukul Roy will come before the CBI in the next few days.”
In the sting operation conducted by Narada News chief journalist Mathew Samuel in 2014, the IPS officer and a number of senior Trinamool leaders — two of whom have since crossed over to the BJP — were purportedly seen taking cash or asking that money be deposited elsewhere in return for promising favours to a fictitious company.
The footage was uploaded by the news portal ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections in March 2016.
Mirza, the first person to be arrested in the case, was heard referring to his closeness with Roy in footage uploaded by the news portal. Roy, it is said, had asked Samuel to meet Mirza saying he would be the go-between.
Roy has, however, claimed that none of the footage showed him taking any money. “Neither did I take any money, nor was I offered… I asked the person who came to me posing as a businessman to meet Mirza in connection with getting land for his business,” he said.
Asked by a journalist on Thursday how a police superintendent could have been of help for somebody seeking land to start a business, Roy said: “It helps if you know the SP.”
The CBI lodged an FIR on April 17, 2017 against 13 people, including Mirza and a number of Trinamool Ministers and MPs, a month after the Calcutta High Court ordered it to conduct preliminary inquiry into the sting footage case.
Besides Roy, the prime accused in the FIR, the name of former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who has also now joined the BJP from Trinamool, figures in the list.
Current state ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Suvendu Adhikari, incumbent MPs Saugato Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Banerjee and Aparoopa Poddar, former state minister Madan Mitra, sitting state legislator Iqbal Ahmed — all belonging to the Trinamool Congress, were also named in the document.
The 13th accused, former Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed, has since passed away.
The FIR was lodged after the preliminary inquiry revealed prima facie material for registration of a regular case relating to criminal conspiracy (IPC 120B) and under several provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to the FIR, Mirza, accused number 12, “was shown to have accepted an amount of Rs 5 lakh approximately” from the sting operator, with the document referring to the Narada video footage of April 25 and April 27, 2014.