A special court in West Bengal’s Asansol on Thursday remanded Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal to the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation till August 20 in a cattle smuggling case, PTI reported.

Earlier in the day, Mondal was arrested by the investigative agency from his home in West Bengal’s Bolpur city for allegedly not cooperating in the case.

Mondal, the party’s Birbhum district president, was arrested after a Central Bureau of Investigation team questioned him for nearly an hour. The Trinamool Congress leader had skipped two summons to appear before the CBI in the last few days, citing health issues.

On Thursday, he was taken to the CBI’s camp office in Rampurhat for questioning, The Indian Express reported.

On March 11, the Calcutta High Court had dismissed Mondal’s petition seeking protection from arrest. The judge had dismissed Mondal’s plea filed on medical grounds, noting that he had travelled outside his hometown of Bolpur on multiple occasions since the case was filed.

On March 29, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court also refused him protection from arrest.

‘The buck stops at Mamata Banerjee,’ says BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday said that Mondal was a creation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, News 18 reported.

“CBI has done the right thing that they have arrested him,” Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari said. “He was [a] low-rung leader, how did he amass Rs 1,000 crore property? That has to be seen. It has to be ascertained under whose direction coal and cattle smuggling takes place.”

BJP Information Technology cell head Amit Malviya accused Banerjee of patronising criminals like Mondal.

“As chief minister and home minister of West Bengal, she gives state protection to those who operate crime and extortion syndicates under her watch,” he wrote on Twitter, sharing an old photo of Banerjee sitting in a car with Mondal. “Partha Chaterjee or Anubroto Mondal, the buck stops at Mamata Banerjee.”

Malviya was referring to the teacher recruitment scam in West Bengal in which former Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee has been arrested. On July 28, Chatterjee was stripped of his party and ministerial responsibilities.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra said that the chief minister will not tolerate corruption, ANI reported.

“It’s a sensitive matter,” he said. “Only the [party] spokesman is authorised to comment. The CM has said that corruption wouldn’t be supported. That’s been proved as Partha Chatterjee has been ousted.”

The case

On September 21, 2020, the CBI filed a case against Border Security Force commandant Satish Kumar and three others for allegedly allowing illegal cattle trade along the border between West Bengal and Bangladesh.

The agency had arrested the main accused person, cattle trader Mohammad Enamul Haque, in New Delhi in November 2020. Haque and two other cattle traders named Anarul Sheikh and Muhammad Ghulam Mustafa were involved in the illegal trade, according to the first information report filed in the case

The CBI has alleged that cattle seized by the Border Security Force would be undervalued, so that traders could buy them at low prices and then sell them in Bangladesh. The agency has claimed that a part of the money from the sale went to some Trinamool Congress leaders, including Mondal, and government officials.