West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went on an indefinite sit-in in front of the Metro Channel at Esplanade here on Sunday night, after CBI officials tried to enter Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s residence to allegedly question him in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.
Ms. Banerjee said her agitation was to “save democracy, the Constitution and the country.”
She blamed the Central government, particularly the BJP’s leadership and the National Security Adviser, for forcing her to go on an agitation.
Duty to protect officers
Ms. Banerjee said that it was her “duty” to protect her officials.
“All police forces across the country, I stand by them. I have nothing against officials and that is why I have let them (CBI officials) leave the area. Rather, I will sit on a dharna in front of Metro Channel. I am not scared. I am going to Metro now. I appeal to the media to be neutral,” the Trinamool said.
“Gandhiji said satyagraha. I am going on satyagraha from tonight,” she said and headed for the Metro Channel.
Ms. Banerjee alleged that she had been asked not to hold the meeting of the Opposition leaders in Kolkata on January 19. “We are being victimised for holding that rally... because the BJP knows that they cannot win. Their expiry date has arrived,” she said.
She accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah of trying to organise a coup, and NSA Ajit Doval of masterminding the operation.
In an unprecedented development, a number of CBI officers, who had gone to question Mr. Kumar in connection with the chit fund scam cases, were bundled into police jeeps, whisked to a police station and briefly detained on Sunday.
The State-Centre crisis related to the chit fund scam investigation by the CBI took a sharp turn around 7 p.m. when CBI officials reached the residence of the Police Commissioner in south Kolkata. They tried to enter the residence to question him.
The Shakespeare Sarani police station, half a km from the police chief’s house, was immediately informed. Officials from the station reached Mr. Kumar’s house and stopped the CBI officials from entering it. Kokata police told the CBI officers that they needed to approach the station for permission. When the CBI officals went there, they were bundled into a police vehicle. The police and CBI officials engaged in a fist fight as the latter were pushed into the vehicle.
Meanwhile the city streets under South Division of KP was shut down and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who reached the CP’s residence by 7-30 pm, convened a high level meeting of the Ministers, government officials and her arvisers. The incident is described as “unprecedented” in the history of Kolkata police.
Around 7 pm, about three dozen officials of CBI reached the Loudon street residence of Rajeev Kumar, the CP of Kolkata Police.
Situation at the Metro Channel
Within minutes of Mamata Banerjee’s announcement to go on a dharna, a team decorators started raising a dharna-manch, or stage for her and her colleagues to host the protest. The area falls under Metro Channel Control Post, Hare Street Police station and a police officials said that “as far as the indications are concerened, she may continue with her protest.” Ms Banerjee also said that “a make shift room will be constructed by the dharna mancha” for her to do daily meetings.
“ I will not be able to attend tomorrow’s [State] Budget in the Assembly but will do the necessary meeting in the make shift room,” Ms Banerjee said.
The atmosphere was electric as hundreds of supporters of Trinamool Congress [TMC] reached the area late on Sunday night and more were pouring in. They were shouting slogans, "Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao."The entire TMC cabinet, all senior State government officials reached the Dharna mancha, by 10 pm. Ms Banerjee confirmed that Akhilesh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal and Ahmed Patel called her.