CBI arrests Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal in cattle smuggling case

Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal.

Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal. | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

The Central Bureau of Investigation on August 11, 2022, arrested Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal in connection with the cross-border cattle smuggling case. The arrest comes after Mr. Mondal, a prominent TMC leader skipped several summons by the agency, including two in the past one week.

On Thursday, a team of CBI officials along with several CRPF personnel arrived at the house of Mr. Mondal at Bolpur in Birbhum.  They entered the house and picked up the TMC leader and drove off. “The said accused was consistently avoiding CBI’s summons since long and not cooperating with the CBI investigation into the case,” a press statement by the CBI said. The TMC leader was produced before a court in Asansol which remanded him to CBI custody till August 20. There were protests outside the CBI court in Asansol where supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties were seen protesting side by side.

Also read: Cattle smuggling case: Trinamool leader’s property attached

Mr. Mondal was asked to appear before the CBI on August 8 and August 10, but the TMC leader skipped the summons. On August 8, Mr. Mondal tried to get admission to State run SSKM hospital in Kolkata but the doctors said that he did not require hospitalisation. Of the 10 times the TMC leader was summoned in the case, he had appeared only once on May 19 this year .

Reacting to the arrest TMC leadership said that the party has zero tolerance to corruption but raised questions on the impartialilty of central investigating agencies. The arrest of Mr. Mondal comes as a major embarssament to the party and TMC leadership appears not to put their weight behind the party’s key organiser in south Bengal. The party has, however, called for protests against central agencies on Friday.

No stranger to controversy

Mr. Mondal, a prominent TMC leader and has been instrumental in establishing party’s dominance in Birbhum and adjoining districts. He has been no stranger to controversy and often accused of violence and political murders of the supporters of Opposition parties. Mr. Mondal has also grabbed headlines for his public utterances like “hurling bombs at the police” and more recemtly “Khela Hobe (Game is On)” before 2021 Assembly polls in the State.

The cattle smuggling case relates to the smuggling of cattle through the India-Bangladesh border through cattle markets in Birbhum. The CBI has lodged an FIR in the case on September 21, 2020 and filed chargesheets in the case, the last being on Monday (August 8, 2022). In the chargesheet, Mr. Mondal’s security officer Saigal Hossain has been named as accused. Mr. Hossain has been arrested in the case and remains behind bars. The other accused named in the chargesheets include a former BSF commandant Satish Kumar, businessman Emanul Haque , former Trinamool leader Binya Mishra, and Abdul Lateef, owner of a cattle haat in Birbhum.

“It was also alleged that the accused persons were organizing and patronizing large scale illegal cattle smuggling to neighbouring country and collecting huge money from other persons. It was also revealed that accused procured huge number of cattle from Illambazar Pashuhat and ensured safe passage for transportation of cattle to international border,” the CBI press statement said.

The arrest of Anubrata Mondal comes close on the heels of the arrest of former party heavyweight Partha Chatterjee by the Enforcement Directorate in the School Service Commission(SSC) recruitment scam. Mr. Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee, from whose house ₹50 crore was recovered, are behind bars since July 23. On Wednesday CBI arrested two officials of SSC in the scam.

ED summons IPS officers from Bengal

Meanwhile, the Enforcment Directorate which is also probing the coal smuggling case has summoned eight IPS officers in Delhi in connection with the case. The IPS officer posted in the State’s coal bearing soth western region have been asked to appear in the last week of August. A few days ago Kolkata Police has summoned Deputy Director of the ED in connection with arrest of Jharkhand lawyer.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 9:50:08 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/cbi-arrests-trinamool-congress-leader-anubrata-mondal-in-cattle-smuggling-case/article65757037.ece