Kolkata, May 19: For another night, the top four Bengal politicians — Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee — will have to remain in the jail custody in the Narada sting case. The four Bengal leaders including two TMC ministers and a TMC MLA were arrested on Monday in the 2016 Narada sting case by the CBI. The Calcutta High Court adjourned the hearing in the case till 2 pm on Thursday.
Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee were represented by counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee were represented by Siddharth Luthra.
Mamata Banerjee named in CBI petition in Narada sting case
Meanwhile, West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, law minister Malay Ghatak and TMC MP and lawyer Kalyan Banerjee have been made parties in the CBI petition before the Calcutta High Court. Representing the CBI, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta had on Monday evening informed the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee that an extraordinary situation evolved on Monday when the CM of Bengal sat on a dharna outside the office of CBI. The same day CBI arrested the heavyweight Bengal politicians in connection with the Narada sting case.
#FIR filed against #CBI by #TMC minister Chandrima Bhattacharya at #Gariahat Police Station u/s 166/166A/188/34 IPC & 51(b) DM Act.
Case filed against CBI for “illegal” arrest in Narada sting case
A case has been filed against the CBI for illegally arresting four top Bengal politicians in the Narada sting case. TMC leader Chandrima Bhattacharya has filed the FIR against the CBI at Gariahat Police Station which falls under Kolkata Police. “In the circumstances, I on behalf of my party would request you to immediately take necessary action under the law and do the needful against the CBI officers who had arrested the leaders at the behest of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and the Governor of the State,” Bhattacharya wrote in the letter.
Politicians spend nights in Presidency Jail
Monday ended on a high note in Kolkata when four top Bengal politicians were denied bail by the Calcutta High Court. After a special court granted interim bail to all four Bengal politicians, including two TMC ministers — Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, a TMC MLA Madan Mitra and former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who were arrested by the CBI on Monday morning in connection with the Narada tapes, the CBI challenged the bail order in the Calcutta High Court. The Calcutta HC stayed the bail order and the four politicians were taken to Presidency Correctional Home on Monday night.
However, around 4 am, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee were shifted to hospital after they complained of breathlessness. They have been admitted to SSKM Hospital’s Woodburn Ward in Kolkata.
A few hours later, Subrata Mukherjee was also taken to SSKM for a medical examination. The 76-year-old politician was later admitted to the hospital. Meanwhile, Firhad Hakim remained at the Presidency Correctional Home. Reportedly, Hakim, who is the new transport minister of Bengal, did his routine morning walk in the correctional home on Tuesday.
Firhad Hakim breaks down
Before the four politicians were taken to Presidency Correctional Home on Monday night, in a brief interaction with the media outside Nizam Palace in Kolkata, Firhad Hakim was in tears and said that he could not finish the job he had set out to do for the people of Kolkata during the pandemic. Hakim, who is also the chairman of the board of administrators of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), started sobbing and said, “I have full faith in the judiciary. May be after CBI, the BJP will send ED (Enforcement Directorate). I have always co-operated with the CBI. I could not do the work for the people of Kolkata in this pandemic,” he said.
Madan Mitra, on the other hand, raised the question why no action has been taken against former colleagues in TMC — Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari, who are now with BJP. They, too, were accused in the same Narada sting case. “We all are bad men but not Mukul (Roy) and Suvendu (Adhikari),” said Madan Mitra.
CBI nabs top Bengal leaders
On Monday, Central forces arrived at the homes of the Bengal ministers — Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee and two other leaders — Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee —and took them to the CBI office in Kolkata. Sovan Chatterjee was the former Kolkata mayor and TMC leader. However, he quit TMC in 2019 and joined BJP and then left the saffron party in March after he was denied a ticket in the 2021 Bengal assembly election. All the leaders were brought to Nizam Palace in Kolkata as part of the investigation, they said.
Mamata Banerjee stage dharna at CBI office
After the Bengal ministers and the other leaders were arrested, Mamata reached the CBI office. Visibly furious, she said that the arrest of the Bengal ministers have been made without due procedure and she, too, will have to be arrested. She left the CBI office after six hours in the afternoon and went straight to state secretariat Nabanna.
A team of CBI along with central forces reached Bengal Transport and Housing minister Firhad Hakim’s Chetla residence and took him to the probe agency’s office, the officials said. “The CBI has arrested me in the Narada case. We will settle this matter in court,” Hakim said. There was, however, no official confirmation from the CBI about the arrest. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had recently sanctioned prosecution against Hakim and other senior leaders of the TMC, including Mitra and Mukherjee.
TMC spokesman Kunal Ghosh said that BJP is using the central probe agency to take revenge after their loss in the West Bengal assembly elections. “The BJP is still not able to accept their defeat in the polls and therefore, they are making an all-out attempt to win… This is a reprehensible act. When the state is fighting the Covid situation, they are trying to create disturbances in such a manner,” he said.
TMC supporters hold protest
Soon after the Bengal legislators and ministers have been arrested by the CBI, TMC supporters have started staging protests outside CBI office in Kolkata amidst a statewide lockdown. The TMC supporters are also protesting in various places across the state. Meanwhile, TMC supporters have also raised question regarding the arrest of Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy. The Narada bribery tapes were released ahead of the 2016 state Assembly polls. The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March 2017. At that time, both Adhikari and Roy were with TMC. However, now both the leaders are with BJP with Adhikari being the opposition leader. The TMC has voiced its protest against the move and has called it “politically motivated”.
“One needs to take consent from the Speaker of the state Assembly before arresting an MLA. The CBI only has consent from the Governor,” said Biman Bandopadhyay, lawyer and Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar seems concerned about the situation in Bengal. He tweeted, “Concerned at alarming situation. Call upon @MamataOfficial to follow constitutional norms & rule of law. Police @WBPolice @KolkataPolice @HomeBengal must take all steps to maintain law & order. Sad- situation is being allowed to drift with no tangible action by authorities.”