In a major development, the Enforcement Directorate has summoned Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the national General Secretary of Trinamool Congress, and his wife Rujira Banerjee in connection with an alleged money laundering case involving coal smuggling.
Banerjee, an MP from Diamond Harbour, has been asked to appear before the financial probe agency in New Delhi on September 6, while his wife has been summoned on September 1.
Sanjay Basu, the lawyer for the Banerjees, has been told to appear before the agency on September 3.
Two senior IPS officers of West Bengal Police — Shyam Singh and Gyanwant Singh — have also been summoned by the ED in the same case on September 8 and 9, respectively.
The CBI had questioned Rujira Banerjee in connection with the case on February 23, days ahead of the Assembly elections in Bengal. Her sister and family members have also been questioned in the case.
The case was filed under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the ED after studying a November 2020 FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to the Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state’s Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.
Local state operative Anup Majhi alias Lala is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case.
The ED had earlier claimed that Abhishek Banerjee was a beneficiary of the funds obtained from this illegal trade. The Trinamool leader had denied all the charges.
Hours after the ED summon, Abhishek Banerjee said at the Trinamool student wing’s foundation day programme on Saturday, “The BJP thinks it can put pressure on us by using ED against us, but we will only emerge stronger.”
Terming the ED summons as “political vendetta”, Banerjee said that the central agencies cannot deter his resolve.
“When we fight, we have just two things in mind – either hoist the flag for which we are fighting or come back wrapped in the same. I challenge (Home Minister) Amit Shah to stop the Trinamool if he has the courage; we will snatch away from you all those states where we enter,” he said.
“Trinamool will go to all the states where the BJP has killed democracy and snatched away people’s rights. We will fight them till the last drop of our blood. They think we will sit down if they scare us. But this is the land of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekanand and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa,” he added.