- Rujira Banerjee leaves ED office in Salt Lake after nearly 4 hours of examination
Senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday in connection with the coal pilferage case, officials said.
A panel of five officers, including those from New Delhi, interrogated Rujira for nearly four hours, they said.
Rujira was stopped at the Calcutta airport on Monday when she was going to UAE with her two children. She was then served the summons for appearing before the agency at 11 am on June 8.
However, she reached the CGO Complex around 12.40 pm with her lawyer. She left the ED office around 4.20 pm following the questioning.
Rujira was asked to appear before the ED in connection with the state coal pilferage case and was questioned in two phases, agency sources said.
In the first phase she was asked to supply details of her planned visit to Dubai which was disallowed by the immigration department when she reached the NSC Bose International Airport, Calcutta on Monday. Rujira reportedly had a lookout notice on her which made the department raise a red flag. She was handed an appearance notice by the ED at the airport itself.
In the second phase, the agency reportedly questioned Rujira about certain transactions in her overseas bank accounts and attempts were made to ascertain whether those transactions were in any way linked to laundering cash from the coal smuggling scam.
Banerjee remained tight-lipped on her way out of the ED office.
Abhishek, the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, alleged the "harassment" of his family was aimed at stopping his outreach campaign ahead of the panchayat elections in West Bengal.
Tight security arrangements were made around the CGO Complex to prevent any untoward incident, a senior police officer said.
Both CBI and the ED earlier questioned Rujira in the case.
The CBI was probing the scam over illegally-mined coal from the abandoned mines of Eastern Coalfields, estimated to be worth thousands of crores of rupees, officials said.
They said the crime proceeds were transacted through the Hawala route, which the ED was probing.
The Trinamul Congress (TMC) alleged that the ED's action was a political vendetta by the BJP.
"Whenever Abhishek Banerjee was summoned, he cooperated. But the way his family is being harassed is shameful. This is nothing but political vendetta by the BJP," TMC's state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said.
"The BJP is afraid of the TMC's 'Nabojowar' campaign ahead of the panchayat polls, and also wants to divert the attention from the train accident," he claimed.
The state BJP said the CBI and ED were independent agencies, devoid of any political influence.
"The BJP has nothing to do with the investigation. The allegations are baseless, and if they have any complaints, let them move court," state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said.
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