ED grills Abhishek Banerjee, wife Rujira to be quizzed on Tuesday
Abhishek Banerjee, the Trinamul Congress MP and nephew of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate here on Monday in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal pilferage scam in the state.
Sources said the 34-year-old Trinamul national general secretary reached the ED’s office in central Delhi around 11am. His wife Rujira will be questioned on Tuesday.
The central agency’s summons to Abhishek and Rujira come 10 days after Delhi High Court dismissed a plea by the couple challenging the ED’s notices asking them to appear in New Delhi, instead of Calcutta.
The ED had first questioned the Diamond Harbour MP in connection with the case in September last year.
A source said Abhishek’s statement was recorded on Monday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and he was confronted with some “evidences” gathered by the ED in the case.
“He was questioned today about his links to the other accused in the case,” said an ED official.
The ED, he said, was not satisfied with his answers during the questioning in September last year and that was why he was summoned to appear before the agency again.
The ED had filed a criminal case under the provisions of the PMLA after studying a November 2020 FIR of the CBI that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state’s Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.
On Sunday, Abhishek had told reporters that he would not bow down and surrender before the Narendra Modi-led BJP government and continue his fight against the saffron camp till the end.
In Calcutta, the issue of questioning of Abhishek and his wife triggered a war of words between Trinamul and the BJP. Trinamul spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the BJP was using agencies like the ED to malign Abhishek.
“The BJP is controlling these agencies like the CBI and the ED. The BJP is using these agencies to malign Abhishek,” said Ghosh. He also asked why Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari, who had joined the BJP before the Assembly polls, had not been questioned though his name had cropped up in the Narada case.
Dilip Ghosh, the MP and former state president of the BJP, said the arrest of Abhishek was just a matter of time. “He will have to go to jail.… His name is linked with cattle smuggling, coal smuggling, illegal sand mining and what not,” said Ghosh.
Petition in SC
Abhishek Banerjee on Monday filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate in the money laundering case linked to the alleged coal pilferage scam.