Showdown in Kolkata as CBI tries to quiz top cop

Showdown in Kolkata as CBI tries to quiz top cop

Mamata Banerjee sitting on dharna in Central Kolkata in protest against BJP's action on Sunday. Photo Credit: Special Arrangment

In a dramatic showdown, CBI officials who tried to enter Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s residence to question him in connection with chit fund scam cases were pushed into jeeps, whisked away and detained briefly on Sunday.

Soon, things took a political turn with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee throwing her weight behind Kumar and rushing to his residence and later sitting on a dharna.

Addressing reporters outside, Mamata lashed out at the BJP-led government at the Centre for the “total constitutional breakdown” in the country and for trying to run a “parallel administration” in states.

She said the BJP was resorting to such actions as it was unable to defeat her politically.

Mamata also attacked National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, saying, “Doval is implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisions regarding the CBI. Let him (Doval) deny this if he can.”

And within an hour, she sat on a dharna outside Metro Cinema “to save the Constitution and democracy” and said: “Modi has gone mad. We have to save the country. I appeal to all the parties to raise their voice in protest.”

And soon, support poured in from across the Opposition camp. “Opposition party leaders such as Rahul Gandhi (Cong), Tejaswi Yadav (RJD), N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), Akhilesh Yadav (SP), M K Stalin (DMK) and Omar Abdullah (NC) called me to extend their support,” said Banerjee. 

While backing Kumar, Mamata tweeted: “The Kolkata Police commissioner is among the best in the world. His integrity, bravery and honesty are unquestioned. He is working 24x7 and was on leave for only one day recently. ”

As for the CBI’s role in investigating chit fund scams, she said the investigation was handed over long ago, but there has been no progress.

“They (CBI) think they can ensure BJP’s victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by intimidating us. Will Article 356 be used after this,” she asked.

“Without warrant, you (CBI) are coming to a Police Commissioner’s House for secret operation. Such audacity... Today they are coming here, tomorrow they will go to the Chief Secretary’s house, the day after to Home Secretary’s residence. They (CBI) have become too courageous,” she said.

However, CBI Joint Director Pankaj Srivastava, said: “They (CBI officials) went there (Kumar’s residence) with all required legal documents. He should have cooperated. For more than two years we were issuing notices to the police officers who were investigating these cases (chit fund scams)...The evidences have been we wanted to question these people.”

The face-off began late in the evening after a team of about 40 CBI officials arrived near Kumar’s residence. Before they could enter the premises, the CBI team was intercepted by a large police contingent.