The Central Bureau of Investigation is likely to question and arrest some high profile leaders belonging to West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, soon. Some of these leaders are allegedly involved in the Narada, Saradha and Rose Valley scams. Sources say that CBI officers based in Bengal have been given a four-month deadline to complete their probes in these cases.
Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana, who was in Kolkata earlier this week, apparently lashed out at the local officers for the delay in the filing of the charge-sheets in these cases. He asked them to send a report on the status of the investigation every fortnight.
In a meeting with these officers, lasting nearly three and a half hours, Asthana, the second in command in the agency, expressed his displeasure over the slow pace of the investigation: the CBI filed an FIR against 12 senior TMC leaders in the Narada news portal sting operation case in April 2017, over a year ago. The CBI took up the case on the order of the Kolkata High Court.
Sources said that Asthana asked the investigating officers to work on the evidence that they had gathered until now and make the cases stronger so that these would stand the scrutiny of the court. “The team has been asked to file an updated status report on the Narada sting by 15 July. We have also been asked to change the CBI lawyers in some of these cases as they are not doing their job properly,” said an officer, who attended the meeting held by Asthana and sai.
During his one-on-one interaction with the officers, Asthana apparently pulled up Ranjit Kumar, the investigating officer in the Narada case, because of his lackadaisical attitude.
“The pressure that might be exerted on local officers, once they start questioning TMC leaders, police officers and bureaucrats, was also discussed. The top brass told us not to come under any pressure and to question every suspect without the fear of reprisals. He assured the officers that they had the support of the CBI headquarters,” a source said.
The CBI’s slow progress in these cases has encouraged a perception among a section of BJP leaders in West Bengal that the Central government was not in a mood to antagonise Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the president of the Trinamool Congress.