NEW DELHI: The curious case of a retired IPS officer and her numerous slugfests with the Bengal government has taken a totally bizarre turn and has all the potential to embarrass the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Documents accessed by this correspondent indicate that the former IPS officer and SP of Midnapur, West Bengal, Bharati Ghosh, was being targeted by elements in the West Bengal government. Ghosh had resigned from service following her numerous run-ins with TMC politicians and state government officials.
Call data records offered to this correspondent by a whistleblower show how some cops in Bengal were instrumental in encouraging charge-sheeted criminals to file case after case against Ghosh. The call detail records, or the CDR files, show cops in Bengal were making countless calls—mostly in the dead of the night—to hardened criminals days before those very criminals filed complaints against Ghosh. With the CDRs now coming to the surface, it is clear that Ghosh was implicated with what looked like made-to-order statements from a handful of supporters of TMC. In some cases, the cops were making more than 25-30 calls in the dead of the night to these very charge-sheeted criminals who lived far away from the police stations.
It is believed by neutral observers that if these CDRs get submitted to the Supreme Court, it could prove to be very embarrassing for the state government, which has offered an affidavit, and even sworn on oath that they had nothing to do with those who had filed cases against
Ghosh. The state government also told the Apex Court that those who filed cases against Ghosh did so because they knew she was corrupt and accumulated wealth beyond her means.
What is interesting is that Ghosh was not named in the first information report (FIR), which was filed on the day of the first raid at her residence on 1 February 2018. She was not even indirectly implicated by a huge posse of 75 officers, who were a part of the raid party. Papers accessed by this correspondent show that there have been very rare cases in Bengal where a team of 75 officers were sent. The team took away everything, including a deed of gift of 1989 of parental property, which was given to Ghosh by her mother long before she became an IPS officer.
And then Ghosh was named in the case, one after another. She has repeatedly argued in court that she had nothing to do with the charges, and that she was being implicated in the cases, the charges filed against her by some charge-sheeted criminals. These were the very criminals against whom Ghosh had taken action because they indulged in criminal activities, ranging from murder to arson and cattle smuggling. But the state government repeatedly countered her by saying that the charges filed against Ghosh were done by people independently.
The CDRs, evaluated by this correspondent, show some noteworthy details. On the day of the raid, 1 February 2018, all the raiding officers left the CID headquarters at Bhabani Bhavan in Kolkata in the early afternoon, travelled over hundreds of kilometres, and reached the residence of the targeted persons —the list included Ghosh and some officers close to her.
But what is surprising is by that time, the case was not even registered. So the cops waited.
At the same time, one charge-sheeted criminal, Chandan Majhi, was taken to court by another group of officers and a court complaint initiated by the cops. Within hours, the case was registered at the police station. Once the case was registered, the cops rushed to conduct the raids. What Ghosh has argued in the case is simple but lethal: The movement of officers for the raid started long before registration of the case. In short, everything was pre-planned and pre-organised.
And now, these very acts by the state government could cause them embarrassment, triggering a big crash like the proverbial Humpty Dumpty.
Like worms from a decaying woodwork, more details are now emerging in the case. Consider this one. On the first day of the raid, the cops could not find what they claimed were illegal cash and illegal gold. Within some days, the cops conducted two more raids and found loads of cash and gold. Ghosh said she didn’t even know those people who were raided. Ghosh also pointed out in court that the cops in Bengal, instead of arresting those who had the cash and gold, let them off instantly. And then, within days, the two offered complaints against Ghosh. More such discrepancies have been identified by Ghosh in the court. For example, after seizure of money from the flat of one Abhishek Chakraborty, the cops did not mention anything in the seizure list, it merely said “seizure from Flat 1A”. Ghosh has attached the seizure list in her writ petition.
Ghosh’s lawyers have argued in the courts that it is unprecedented in the history of crime that the primary possessor, who is in actual possession of the proceeds, is let off and made a witness and somebody else is implicated by his statement. What is more interesting is that despite freezing all her assets, the cops have not been able to find any illegal cash in any of her accounts, or that of her husband. And once Ghosh appealed in the Supreme Court, the CID of Bengal Police sent a letter to her husband, saying they were willing to return the keys of the seized properties. Within days, the manager of Axis Bank in Garia Branch on the southern fringes of Kolkata, opened up the account.
But Ghosh wants the Supreme Court to look into the way she was treated. Lawyers representing the Bengal government are now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Did the cops act on orders of the state government?
The Apex Court has restrained the Bengal government from arresting Ghosh. The former SP, Midnapore, also a decorated UN officer who served in some of the worst war-torn nations, has—actually—taken the battle to the trenches. Once she stopped Bengal’s big cow smuggling racket and was privy to many secrets of the state, including the death of Naxalite leader Kishenji, now she is faced with what appears to be a big challenge: To take on the might of important ruling politicians in the state.