Soon after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed “moral victory” following the Supreme Court ruling that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can question Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar but not arrest the Bengal top cop, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) interpreted the apex court order to its own advantage. Union Law Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Supreme Court order was “a great moral victory for the CBI”.
“This order was given by the Supreme Court to investigate the conspiracy angle and also money laundering angle. This investigation must be done in a fair manner. Let’s not politicise it. This is a great moral victory for the CBI,” the Union law minister said.
Ravi Shankar Prasad further accused Mamata Banerjee and “other political parties” of maintaining a “silence” even as lakhs of small investors were cheated” in the chit fund scams in West Bengal. Follow live updates here
Prasad said, “Today we have to ask larger questions on behalf of the party (BJP). Lakhs of small investors were cheated and looted of their money. Is it not our moral obligation to push for an investigation? Why is Mamata ji silent on this? Why are the other political parties silent on this?”
The law minister’s comments followed Banerjee’s claim that the Supreme Court order vindicated her sit-in protest in support of the police officers of West Bengal. Banerjee said, “Rajeev Kumar never said he will not be available. He said we want to meet at a mutual place, if you want to ask for any clarification, you can come and we can sit.”
“But what they (CBI) started doing? They wanted to arrest him. They went to his house, on a secret operation, on Sunday, without any notice. That court said ‘no arrest’. We are so obliged. It will strengthen the morale of the officers,” Banerjee said in Kolkata, where her protest entered third day on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court directed Rajeev Kumar to “faithfully” cooperate with the CBI and appear before the central agency, which is probing cases related to the Saradha chit fund scam. A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi fixed Meghalaya capital Shillong as the venue for meeting of CBI officials and Koltaka top cop Rajeev Kumar.
The CBI had told the Supreme Court that it had apprehension that Rajeev Kumar, who header a special investigation team in the case earlier, may tamper with evidence related to the chit fund scam. The matter will come up for hearing next in the Supreme Court on February 20.
Banerjee began her sit-in after a CBI team reached Kolkata on Sunday to question Rajeev Kumar in connection with Sharada and Rose Valley chit fund scams in West Bengal. The CBI officials were allegedly detained at a police station in an unusual chain of events that also saw Banerjee rushing to Rajeev Kumar’s residence. The CBI officials were later released apparently under instructions from Banerjee.
The BJP has alleged that the leaders of ruling Trinamool Congress party were the beneficiaries of the chit fund scams in which crores of rupees were fraudulently collected from small investors. Banerjee has said it was her government, after coming to power for the first time in 2011, which probed the chit fund scams and arrested Saradha chairman Sudipta Sen. She said Rs 250-300 crore was returned to the duped depositors due to action taken by her government.