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Mamata sits on dharna against CBI move to quiz Kolkata police chief, BJP demands Prez Rule in Bengal

Mamata sits on dharna against CBI move to quiz Kolkata police chief, BJP demands Prez Rule in Bengal

| @indiablooms | 03 Feb 2019, 06:10 pm

Kolkata/New Delhi, Feb 3 (IBNS): Amid high drama that unfolded since evening, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday began an indefinite dharna (sit-in protest) to protest the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move to enter the house of  Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar to quiz him on chit funds scams and said she is ready to "sacrifice her life to save India from Modi even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded  imposition of 'presidential rule' in the eastern state where the Trinamool Congress is ruling since 2011.

Speaking on the issue of presidential rule, Mamata said: "They want to impose president's rule in all state where the opposition parties are ruling. If they want to impose Emergency let them do it."

Mamata Banerjee said the PM has gone 'mad' knowing he will not be re-elected and he is trying to 'break all constitutional institutions'. Banerjee said she is ready to 'give up' her life. "I am ready to die to protect the country," she said.

She announced that her Cabinet meeting will take place near metro channel at 1 pm on Monday.

Banerjee directed her party members to start 'peaceful' protest across the state on Monday from 2 pm.

BJP Reacts:

Union Minister and a BJP MP from West Bengal Babul Supriyo tweeted: "What's happening in Bengal? - Arrests CBI - Denied permission for rallies - Doesn’t let @AmitShah’s choppers land - Let’s her goonda party men to kill BJP supporters - Insults federal system We demand #PresidentRuleInBengal. #MamataFearsBJP #MamataBlocksCBI."

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said: "What happened today was completely unbelievable. After being directed by the Supreme Court, CBI has been probing chit fund scams. Despite being a top cop, Rajeev Kumar acted like a party cadre and he misplaced evidences. An agency like CBI never takes any step against anyone without having adequate evidence."

"Kolkata Police should have cooperated with the CBI in the investigation process. But, unfortunately, they did not," he said.

Rajeev Kumar: Development so far

Rajeev Kumar, who was seen emerging after Mamata met him, was wanted for questioning in connection with investigations into several ponzi scams.

He did not speak to media.

He had headed the special investigation team investigating into the Saradha and Rose Valley scams. Kumar has been accused of tampering with evidence to save several influential people in the state.

CBI defended their action. "As we found concrete evidences against Rajeev Kumar, we had summoned him. As he did not respond to our notices, our officers went to his residence in south Kolkata today to quiz him with all valid documents and paper-works," CBI joint commissioner Pankaj Kumar Srivastava told IBNS after probe agency officials were whisked away from the gate of the residence of Rajeev Kumar and detained in a police station when they went to his residence to quiz him on the Rose Valley and Saradha chit fund scams.

"After being directed by the Supreme Court, we are probing the chit fund cases. For last two years, we have repeatedly been sending notices to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, asking him to appear before our investigators for interrogation as he was the chief of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) which was constituted by the state government and it probed the matter in preliminary stage," said Srivastava.

"After starting investigation, we found that several evidences were destroyed or misplaced," he said.

"As he did not respond to our notices, our officers went to his residence in south Kolkata today to quiz him with all valid documents and paper-works. Unfortunately, without cooperating with our officers, police manhandled them and detained them. We will take adequate legal steps against the actions of Kolkata Police," he said.

Counting the CBI, Praveen Tripathi, Jt CP, Crime, Kolkata Police, said: "Those CBI officers told us that they had gone to CP's house for a 'secret operation'. They failed to produce adequate documents relating to the raid or interrogation. When we asked them why they were here and what questions they wanted to ask, they could not give any answer."

Amid media reports that Kumar has not been attending his office for the past three days and has gone missing, the Kolkata Police earlier rubbished the reports and said in a statement: "Kolkata Police condemns and denies such baseless news. Please take note that not only is the CP Kolkata available in the city, but has also been attending office on a regular basis, with the exception of 31.1.19, when he was on leave for a day."

Kolkata Police Additional Commissioner of Kolkata Police Javed Shamim called a press conference to say the reports of Rajeev Kumar absconding are fake news and legal action would be taken against publications of the news.  Kumar reportedly even did not attend a meeting with the Election Commission last week.

Sunday standoff:

Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) personnel have been deployed to protect the CBI offices in Kolkata amid reports that the federal investigating agency is moving the Supreme Court tomorrow to counter the Kolkata Police.

An unprecedented episode unfolded in Kolkata on Sunday with the central agency pitted against Bengal police with the latter physically forcing them inside a vehicle when they tried to enter the house of Rajeev Kumar. They were taken to a police station and later released.

Mamata Banerjee rushed to the house of Kumar  on Sunday evening and later sat on a dharna (sit in protest) with senior police officials, including Rajeev Kumar himself, in the city's downtown area to protest the CBI move to enter the house of Kumar.

The opposition leaders slammed the presence of senior police officers in the dharna of Mamata Banerjee.

Anti-BJP parties come out to support Mamata:

Several key opposition leaders, including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, came out in support of their West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee as she commenced her dharna (sit-in protest) the city's downtown area. 

Kejriwal said he spoke to Banerjee and 'expressed solidarity' with her.

"Spoke to Mamta didi and expressed solidarity. Modi-Shah duo’s action is completely bizarre and anti-democracy," Kejriwal tweeted.

Naidu, who has been meeting several opposition leaders in recent times in a bid to create an alliance of the opposition leaders ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, also came out in supporting Banerjee and tweeted: "After opposition parties started uniting and started to fight together to save democracy, the Modi led BJP is losing all hope. The misuse of institutions by the union government to victimize political opponents in States is reaching dangerous proportions."

He said: "We strongly condemn the incidents happening in Kolkata, a glaring example of how Modi-Shah duo are destroying the institutions. Attacking political opponents in different States, few days before the Parliament elections commence, will have disastrous consequences in the country."

Ex-Bihar CM and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav also extended his support to Mamata Banerjee and tweeted in Hindi: " देश का आम आवाम भाजपा और उसकी गठबंधन सहयोगी पक्षपाती CBI के ख़िलाफ़ है। हम @MamataOfficial जी के साथ खड़े है। तानाशाही का नंगा नाच हो रहा है। लोकतंत्र पर सबसे बड़ा ख़तरा। संविधान और संवैधानिक संस्थाओं पर अभूतपूर्व संकट। चुनावी जीत के लिए देश को गृह युद्ध में झोंकने की कोशिश." 

According to reports, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav might visit Kolkata on Monday to extend her support to Banerjee.

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah posted: " Just spoke to @MamataOfficial didi to convey the support of @JKNC_ as she sits in dharna. The use of the CBI as a political tool has crossed all limits as has the Modi government’s misuse of institutions. A former CM having such little regard for India’s federalism is shocking."

(Reporting by Souvik Ghosh, Deepayan Sinha and Supriyo Hazra)

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