With the battle between Kolkata Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) gaining heat over investigations carried out in the Saradha scam, a report in The Indian Express has pointed out that the former went soft on its probe against ministers Mukul Roy and Himanta Biswa Sarma after they joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The CBI had taken over the investigation of the Saradha scam in 2014 on the orders of the Supreme Court. The investigation agency questioned former railway minister and ex-Trinamool Congress vice-president Mukul Roy on January 30, 2015 over his alleged role in Saradha’s news operations and his association with Saradha chairman Sudipta Sen. The CBI had a statement of Sen’s driver, which alleged that Mukul Roy aided Sen in fleeing Kolkata.
It was TMC MP Kunal Ghosh who had blown the whistle on Roy and 12 others for their role in the Saradha scam after being arrested in 2013 for criminal conspiracy. Meanwhile, the report points out that Roy had started negotiations with the BJP in 2015, which culminated with him joining the saffron party on November 3, 2017.
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As for Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the CBI had brought him in for questioning on November 26, 2014, two months after the investigation agency raided his house and a news channel owned by his wife in Guwahati. Sarma was accused of receiving Rs 20 lakh per month from Sudipta Sen for running Saradha’s operations in Assam.
Yet, Sarma was never named in any of the chargesheets. He had joined the BJP on August 28, 2015, and since then has not been summoned by the CBI for investigation.
Meanwhile, Mukul Roy told the publication, “I joined BJP in 2017 while CBI questioning took place in 2015. How can they say I have taken favours from the BJP?”
The CBI had first summoned Rajeev Kumar on October 18, 2017, around one and a half years after he took over as Commissioner of Kolkata Police on January 29, 2016. He has been issued summons four times since then, the last one being on December 8, 2018. Kumar, who headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the West Bengal government in April 2013 to probe the Saradha scam, has declined all the summons.
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While the CBI is pressing for questioning Kumar claiming that he was the one to enter the premises of the Saradha group after the unearthing of the scam, Kumar has termed the intervention of the CBI as a witch hunt with SIT officers approaching the Calcutta High Court saying the investigating agency is sending notices with malafide intention.
The SIT, headed by Kumar, had ended up unearthing apparent links between the company and ministers, MPs, bureaucrats and celebrities close to the ruling Trinamool.
Late on the night of February 3, CBI officials in an unprecedented move visited Kumar’s residence in a secret operation but were eventually detained by the Kolkata police.