West Bengal Assembly Polls are just on the door, in such an environment the coal scam has brought a new political whirlwind in state’s politics. On February 21, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued summons to Rujira Banerjee, the wife of TMC MP and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek Banerjee, in connection with coal theft case and illegal coal mining in the state. The CBI has also sent a notice to Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Maneka Gambhir for questioning.
Now, What is this coal scam?
On November 27 last year, the CBI’s Kolkata Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) registered a case of corruption and criminal breach of trust in connection with illegal mining and lifting of coal from the leasehold area of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) in parts of West Bengal. ECL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the public sector undertaking Coal India Limited (CIL), which performs coal mining in West Bengal and Jharkhand. The case relates to May-August last year when the Vigilance Department and the ECL Task Force found during the inspection that there was widespread illegal coal mining and hauling in the lease area of ECL. The team had then found that many machines are engaged in illegal coal mining and a large number of vehicles are also standing there for transportation. The team then seized coal on a large scale. Many unauthorized load weighing machines were also installed in that area. It was clear that illegal mining and coal hauling work was taking place in an organized manner.
Huge Black market spread in Bengal and Jharkhand
There are many mines in the coal belt from Asansol to Purulia and Bankura in West Bengal and from Dhanbad to Ramgarh in Jharkhand where mining operations are suspended but the coal mafias are still doing illegal mining operations there. In November 2020, the CBI had registered a case against several officials of ECL, employees including railway and CISF officials in this connection. The CBI alleged that officers and employees of these departments are illegally mining and stealing coal in a nexus. The CBI has told Anup Manjhi to be the kingpin in this case. Apart from these, the CBI has also named ECL general managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL Chief Security Inspector Tanmay Das and Area Security Inspector Dhananjay Rai and security in-charge Debashish Mukherjee.
CBI raided 45 sites
On November 28, 2020, the next day after the case was registered, the CBI raided 45 places in West Bengal. Among these were the whereabouts of Vinay Mishra, close to TMC MP nephew Abhishek Banerjee. The CBI summoned Mishra four times, but he never appeared before the investigating agency. Now a non-bailable warrant and a lookout notice have been issued against him.
Does Rujira also have a name in the FIR?
On Saturday (February 20), the CBI raided 13 places in Bengal. After this, a summon was sent to Rujira Banerjee, wife of Abhishek Banerjee. However, Rujira is not named in the case filed by the CBI. The CBI has also summoned Rujira’s sister Maneka Gambhir and called her for questioning. According to the sources, based on the statements of witnesses and suspects, the CBI has seen their role in illegal coal mining and theft and called for questioning on the same basis. According to sources, Rujira Banerjee’s company LEAPS & BOUNDS MANAGEMENT SERVICESLLP is under suspicion due to some of its banking transactions. Abhishek Banerjee had formed this company in the name of his mother Lata. The second company he formed was in March 2017. Among these companies, his wife, sister-in-law and father Amit Banerjee are partners and directors.
CBI grilled Rujira for long hours
The CBI team grilled Rujira Banerjee on Tuesday. A long list of questions had already been prepared by the CBI. Which is related to Anoop Majhi in coal smuggling? Why did Anoop Majhi send money to your account? Rujira Banerjee is being accused of three big charges. First, to deal in the coal scam, second-money in foreign accounts and third- her citizenship dispute.