Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Modi-Shah Trying To Organise Coup In Bengal, Says Mamata Over Kolkata Police Commissioner-CBI Row

Amidst escalating tension between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Centre, Loudon Street in central Kolkata witnessed a virtual showdown between the state police and the CBI.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Twitter/ANI

Launching a scathing attack on the Centre after a CBI team made an unsuccessfully bid to question the Kolkata Police commissioner Sunday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah of trying to organise a coup in the state.

She also alleged that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was directing the CBI to harass political opponents, as per orders of the prime minister.

"I feel ashamed to talk to such a prime minister who has blood on his hands," she said.

"Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are trying to organise a coup in the state as we had organised the opposition rally on January 19. We were aware that the CBI will attack us after we organised the rally," Banerjee said, referring to the Brigade rally attended by leaders of about 20 opposition parties.

Banerjee said the CBI's action is politically vindictive.

"Our government arrested chit fund owners when we came to power. It is we who formed an SIT to probe the matter," she said in a hurriedly-called press conference outside Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar's residence.

She said she would stage a dharna in central Kolkata tonight.

In an unprecedented development, a number of CBI officers, who had gone to question Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar in connection with chit fund scam cases, were bundled into police jeeps, whisked to a police station and detained on Sunday.

There were conflicting reports about some CBI officers being arrested.

While the agency sources claimed that some of its men were forcibly taken away from Kumar's Loudon Street residence and arrested, a senior police officer denied the claim and said they have been taken to the police station to check if they had the documents required for questioning Kumar.

"I am going to stage a dharna to save the federal structure. From today I'm going to sit near the Metro Channel. Tomorrow proceedings in state assembly will take place where I will hold a meeting. This dharna means satyagraha," the chief minister said.

She backed the police force of the state and alleged that this was "destruction of federal structure"

"I am proud to say that my responsibility is to give protection to the force. Without notice, you are coming to Kolkata Police Commissioner's house. We could have arrested CBI but we left.I will stand with my force. I respect them. I felt very sad today. This is the destruction of the federal structure."

 She reiterated her support for the embattled police commissioner saying "I still say Rajeev Kumar (Kolkata Police Commissioner) is the best in the world"

"BJP is torturing Bengal. They are forcibly trying to destroy Bengal just because I did brigade rally. Yesterday you saw the language of PM where he threatened," Banerjee said.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) Party spokesperson Derek O' Brien tweeted on the developmet saying "destruction of institutions goes on unabated."

He also wondered whether the BJP was "planning a constitutional coup".

Several opposition leaders rallied in Banerjee's support over the issue and attacked Centre over the issue.

Delhi Cheif Minister Arvind Kejriwal condemned the indicdent and alleged that "Modi-Shah duo is a threat to democracy"

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda likened the incident to the days of Emergency said "situation in WB is similar to that of the emergency days"

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav expressed his support to Banerjee's dharna and said "enitire Opposition and people of the country are united to defeat BJP in the general elections".

However, Kailash Vijayvargiya of the BJP condemned the detention of CBI officers saying "Democracy has ended" in the state.

"Democracy has ended in West Bengal, CBI was investigating on orders of SC but they didn't allow them. CBI officers were detained, this is the first time something like this has happened since independence, we condemn this," Vijayvargiya said.

CBI-Bengal Police Drama

The fast-paced development started unfolding as soon as a team of 40-odd agency officers arrived at Kumar's residence this evening, but they were stopped by sentries and officials.

West Bengal DGP Virendra and ADG(Law and order) Anuj Sharma too reached Kumar's residence.

In a tit-for-tat move, a team of Kolkata Police officials reached the CGO Complex- the state headquarters of CBI.

A day earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claimed that Kumar had been "absconding" and "being looked for" in connection with Saradha and Rose Valley ponzi scam cases.

Soon, a team of Kolkata Police officers rushed to the spot to speak to the CBI officials and tried to enquire whether they had required documents to question Kumar.

"We don't want to speak on this issue as of now. Let's see what happens. Please wait for sometime," a senior CBI official standing outside the Police commissioner's house told reporters.

Later on, a small team of CBI officials was taken to Shakespeare Sarani police station for further discussions.

Thereafter, more men arrived at the spot and a commotion ensued. Some CBI officers were then forcibly bundled into police jeeps and taken to a police station.

According to the CBI, IPS officer Kumar, who led a Special Investigation Team of West Bengal Police probing the scams, needs to be questioned regarding missing documents and files but he has not responded to notices to appear before the agency.

Kumar, a 1989-batch IPS officer of West Bengal cadre, did not even attend a meeting with Election Commission officials who had gone to Kolkata to review election preparedness, sources said.

A statement was issued Sunday from Kolkata Police, dismissing reports of him being missing from work.

"Please take note that not only is the CP Kolkata available in the city, but has also been attending office on a regular basis, with the exception of January 31, 2019, when he was on leave for a day. All concerned may please take note that if any news is spread without proper verification, Kolkata Police will initiate strict legal action against defamation of both the CP Kolkata and Kolkata Police," the police said.