SC to hear today CBI’s fear of proof destruction in Bengal; call on Kolkata top cop questioning
A day after the high-tension drama following the CBI’s attempt to quiz Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar’s prompting Mamata Banerjee to embark on an indefinite dharna against the Centre’s alleged highhandedness, the Bengal Chief Minister on Monday launched a multi-pronged attack at the Centre. The Chief Minister accused the BJP Government of “subverting the Constitution,” and “condemning anyone as anti-national who dares question BJP.”
The sit-in stage was turned into a makeshift office where Mamata held a Cabinet meeting ahead of the State
Budget. Launching a blistering attack on the Modi Government for “destroying democratic institutions,” Mamata said she would prefer giving up her life to making immoral compromises with the current situation.
Mamata said she had tolerated all that the CBI and through it the Centre did to her party leaders by framing them in false cases and torturing them. But this time they have targeted the head of an institution like the Kolkata police chief, she said.
“I will prefer giving up my life to making an insulting compromise with the situation,” Mamata said from the dharna platform from where she also addressed a farmers’ meet of her party on telephone.
In related development, the Supreme Court agreed to give an urgent hearing to the CBI’s plea alleging destruction of electronic evidence related to the Saradha chit fund scam case by Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar and said it will come down heavily on him if police office “even remotely” tries to destroy the evidence.
The apex court said it will hear on Tuesday the CBI’s applications which alleged that an extraordinary situation has arisen in which the top police officials of the West Bengal Police are sitting on a dharna along with a political party in Kolkata. In another development, West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi has submitted a report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the situation that unfolded in the city after a CBI team was allegedly obstructed by police from questioning Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha scam, Raj Bhavan sources said on Monday.
The content of the report was, however, not immediately known.
The report was prepared by combining the report of the Special Investigation Branch and the reports submitted to the Governor by the State Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary late on Sunday night, the sources said.
A political firestorm started on Sunday evening after a team of CBI officers landed at the Kolkata CP Kumar’s residence in an apparent bid to interrogate him regarding his role as the chief of the SIT formed the State Government in 2013 to investigate the multi-crore Saradha chit fund case.
The CBI claimed that despite repeated notices Kumar did not appear before the CBI for questioning, neither he had submitted the vital evidence that he and his team seized from various Saradha offices.
Following the incident Mamata started a sit-in protest against the CBI action calling it a Modi Government’s act of vendetta. The sit-in will continue till February 8, the Chief Minister said.
Mamata said, “If anyone destroys the pillars of democracy then democracy itself becomes threatened,” adding she had no other way but to descend on the streets to save democracy reminding the “entire Opposition parties of the country are with us.”
In a significant statement Mamata reminded of the State’s powers saying, “If they (Delhi) have (Article) 356 (of the Constitution) we have Section 144, No entry board and so on. It is not so easy, not so simple.”
Mamata’s reference of Article “356” came almost in tandem with reports that Bengal Governor KN Tripathi had mailed a report on the situations. Sources said the Governor had not spoken highly of the State’s law and order situation.
Referring to the sit-in she said “this dharna is not political. This is to save the honours of a constitutional institution. If someone insults the police force and targets them without any reason then I will protest.”
She said, “My anger is not against CBI or any other police force but against these people who are trying to destroy the federal democratic norms. Sitting in Delhi they think that they can arrest the State leaders because they are raising their voices then I will definitely protest.”
On the chit fund cases, she said, “A lot of lies are being peddled. We are not responsible. Chit funds came into existence in 1980. Why did investigations start after 2011 and not from the 1980s? It was our Government which arrested Sudipta Sen, not the previous Government. Weconstituted an SIT, we constituted the Shyamal Sen Commission and returned Rs 250-300 crore to the depositors. And they allege we are the thieves?”
Attacking the Modi Government for victimising the Opposition leaders if they dared raise their voices Banerjee said “there is a conspiracy going on to destroy the democracy and gag opposition voice by condemning those who challenge them as anti-national and letting losecentral agencies against them.”
The country had taken not of the situation in Bengal and “we have been supported by all the leaders from all States,” said Mamata, adding hers was not an individual but a collective battle which wanted to fight with the help of one and all.
In a novel way of protest and conducting State functions the Chief Minister presided over a police medal function honouring police personnel for their bravery while at the same time addressing a farmers rally over telephone.
Mamata told the farmers how the BJP Government had usurped their rights and their sleep and how the tillers were committing suicide by the day. “They have taken away the farmers’ sleep. It is for everyone to see how about 12,000 farmers have committed suicide in the country” she said adding how after the humiliating defeat in the recently held Assembly elections the Modi Government was giving fake sops to them.
“They are cheating the farmers by announcing some schemes in Parliament,” whereas her Government had undertaken better schemes than the Centre.
Meanwhile, the BJP workers descended on the streets taking out rallies and blocking rail traffic at various places sources said.