CBI summons kin of Abhishek’s sister-in-law, TMC leader for questioning (2nd Ld)

Moving ahead with its probe into the illegal coal smuggling case and the ICore chit fund case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has summoned Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Menka Gambhir’s father-in-law and husband for questioning.

The CBI also summoned Trinamool Congress leader and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee in connection with the ICore chit fund scam on March 15.

A source related to the probe told IANS: “The CBI has summoned Menka Gambhir’s father-in-law Pawan Arora and husband Ankush Arora for questioning on March 15 at its office here.”

The CBI has earlier questioned Abhishek’s wife Rujira Banerjee and his sister-in-law Menka in connection with the same case.

Abhishek is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinanool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

The CBI had registered a case against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket Anup Majhi alias Lala, Eastern Coalfield Ltd General Managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL chief of security Tanmay Das, area security inspector Kunustoria Dhananjay Rai, and SSI and security in-charge Kajora area Debashish Mukherjee in November last year.

On February 26, the CBI searched the premises of a businessman in Kolkata and on February 19, the agency had also carried out searches at 13 locations in four districts of West Bengal including the premises of coal mafia Jaidev Mondal.

On November 28 last year, the CBI had conducted raids at 45 locations in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh in connection with the coal smuggling racket.

The agency summoned Trinamool leader Chatterjee in connection with the ICore chit fund scam for questioning on March 15 at its Kolkata office.

“If I am called, I will definitely go. I am not involved in any illegal activities,” said Chatterjee, who also holds the parliamentary affairs portfolio, adding that he had left a highly lucrative job to join politics and had no greed for money.

The central agency had registered a case against the ICore group in 2014 for allegedly raising over Rs 3,000 crore from thousands of investors across Bengal, much like the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund companies. The company had lured customers offering high returns but finally defaulted on promised pay backs. They had also floated many fraudulent schemes and raised money from the market.

The CBI in December 2018 had arrested Suman Chattopadhyay, editor of a leading Bengali daily, in connection with the case. The agency has alleged that the ICore group which had allegedly raised over Rs 3,000 crore from people by offering high returns on investments had diverted a portion of these funds to other companies.

The agency took over the probe in the matter of the ICore group in 2014 registering an FIR under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and cheating. The case was registered on the basis of a Supreme Court order in 2014 directing the agency to take over all the cases related to chit fund companies probed by the state police.

Its directors Anukul Maity and his wife Kanika were arrested by the agency last year. Maity passed away in November last year in hospital after he complained of chest pain while in Odisha’s Jharpada jail.

The central agency’s actions have turned the heat on in poll-bound West Bengal, where the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP are engaged in a bitter war of words.

Polling to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases, on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Counting will take place on May 2.