Kin of Abhishek’s sister-in-law appear before CBI in coal scam case


The family members of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Menaka Gambhir appeared before the CBI on Monday to record their statements in the multi-crore coal pilferage scam being investigated by the central probe agency.

Gambhir’s father-in-law Pawan Arora and her husband Ankush Arora deposed before the CBI.

Meanwhile, the probe agency has postponed the date for the questioning of Trinamool Congrerss leader and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee to March 23. Earlier, the agency had summoned the Trinamool leader in connection with the ICore chit fund scam for questioning on March 15 at its Kolkata office.

A CBI source related to the probe told IANS: “Ankush and Pawan deposed before the CBI officers at our office here.”

He said their statements are being recorded by the agency in connection with the case.

Last month, the CBI had recorded the statement of Rujira Banerjee, the wife of Abhishek Banerjee, and her sister Menaka Gambhir in connection with the case.

Abhishek is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool 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 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 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 offering high returns on investments, had diverted a portion of these funds to other companies.

The agency had taken over the probe into the ICore group scam in 2014, after registering an FIR under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and cheating.

The case was registered on the basis of the Supreme Court’s order in 2014 directing the agency to take over all the cases related to chit fund companies being probed by the state police.

ICore group’s 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 when he was lodged in the Jharpada jail in Odisha.

The central agency’s actions have turned the heat on 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 — and the results will be declared on May 2.