Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee on Wednesday told the Enforcement Directorate that she could not travel to New Delhi during the pandemic and asked the agency to let her appear for questioning in their Kolkata office, PTI reported.
Rujira Banerjee was summoned to the New Delhi office on Wednesday for questioning in a money laundering case. Abhishek Banerjee will be questioned on September 6.
“I am a mother of two infants and travelling to New Delhi physically [and] alone in the midst of the pandemic will put my and the lives of my children at grave risk,” she said. “It would be convenient to me if you consider asking me to appear in Kolkata since your organisation has its office in Kolkata and I reside in Kolkata too.”
She added: “Besides, as per my understanding, the alleged cause of action of the subject matter of your inquiry too arises out of West Bengal. You may communicate your decision. I assure you every cooperation from my side.”
The case pertains to illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of Eastern Coalfield Limited in West Bengal’s Kunustoria and Kajora areas, and involves the embezzlement of thousands of crores of rupees. The smuggled coal was reportedly sold in the black market through a racket operating in the western parts of the state. Abhishek Banerjee allegedly benefitted from the scam.
In November 2020, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a case against the general managers of Eastern Coalfield Limited as well as a person named Anup Manjhi. Based on the CBI’s case, the Enforcement Directorate also began an investigation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had alleged that the illegal payments had reached Abhishek Banerjee through TMC leader Vinay Mishra. The BJP also claimed that Abhishek Banerjee channelled these funds into the Trinamool Congress.
After the notice was served to Rujira Banerjee on August 28, Abhishek Banerjee had said that he had complete faith in the law of the land but warned that the BJP should not use such tactics to intimidate him. “We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also Abhishek Banerjee’s aunt, alleged on August 28 that BJP leaders used central agencies to target her party when they couldn’t compete in politics. “No use pointing fingers at the Trinamool for corruption in coal,” she had said. “It [coal] is under the Centre. What about its ministers? What about the BJP leaders who looted the coal belt of Bengal, the Asansol region?”