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Three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand arrested in Howrah with more than ₹49 lakh

West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department takes over case; bribe complaint raised in Ranchi

Kinsuk Basu, Our Bureau | Published 01.08.22, 06:45 AM
Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari, Khijri MLA Rajesh Kachhap and Kolebira MLA Naman Bixal Kongari were detained on Saturday in Howrah’s Panchla after police intercepted an SUV carrying them to the neighbouring state. The cash was found in the boot.

Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari, Khijri MLA Rajesh Kachhap and Kolebira MLA Naman Bixal Kongari were detained on Saturday in Howrah’s Panchla after police intercepted an SUV carrying them to the neighbouring state. The cash was found in the boot.

Representational file image

Three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand were arrested in Howrah on Sunday for allegedly carrying bundles of currency notes amounting to a little over ₹49 lakh whose source or purpose they allegedly could not explain.

Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari, Khijri MLA Rajesh Kachhap and Kolebira MLA Naman Bixal Kongari were detained on Saturday in Howrah’s Panchla after police intercepted an SUV carrying them to the neighbouring state. The cash was found in the boot.

“The three have been arrested because they failed to explain the cash,” said an officer of Howrah police (rural).

The MLAs were booked for alleged cheating, criminal conspiracy and bribery along with relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The SUV driver and a man who was accompanying the MLAs were also arrested.

Cops said the vehicle had a red plate in front that said “MLA, Jamtara, Jharkhand” and the Congress party flag above the number plate.

During questioning, cops said, the MLAs said they had planned to buy saris from Burrabazar. The MLAs allegedly claimed they had planned to visit Burrabazar on Monday after spending a day at Mandarmani in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal, around 170km southwest of Kolkata.

“The MLAs claimed the saris were meant for distribution at public functions in Jharkhand,” an officer said.

Hours after the arrest, the five were produced at Howrah district court and remanded in 10 days’ police custody.

Later, the West Bengal CID took over the investigation.

The Congress has suspended the three MLAs.

“We will interrogate the MLAs and find out if someone had handed over the cash to them or they had collected it from different sources,” said a senior CID officer.

Following the arrests, Congress MLA from Jharkhand’s Bermo, Kumar Jaimangal, lodged a complaint with Ranchi police alleging that the trio had called him to Kolkata to offer him ₹10 crore and then take him to Guwahati to meet Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJPruled state’s chief minister.

Jaimangal, also known as Anup Singh, has alleged that he was promised the money as part of an effort to “to topple the present government of the JMM and the Congress”.

The Congress alleged that the BJP was trying to topple its coalition government in Jharkhand.

In West Bengal, the Trinamul said it wants a thorough probe to find out if there was a concerted effort to topple the Jharkhand government.

“(BJP leader of the Opposition) Suvendu Adhikari had also talked about forming governments in non-NDA states like Jharkhand. We want an inquiry to see if the money is part of a conspiracy to topple the democratically elected Jharkhand government,” said Trinamul state general secretary Kunal Ghosh.

West Bengal BJP leaders rubbished the charges. State chief Sukanta Majumdar alleged that efforts were on to defame Suvendu. “The case has been transferred to the CID, which is an unprofessional force... I don’t know whether the Congress is part of this defamation exercise, too,” he said.

Last updated on 01.08.22, 06:45 AM
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