In 10 points: The CBI vs Mamata Banerjee showdown explained
India’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal are at loggerheads. CBI on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with the investigation in Saradha chit fund case. Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee is staging a sit-in near the Metro Channel in Kolkata.
Here’s what has happened so far:
- The showdown began after CBI officials landed at Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s Loudon House residence on Sunday to question him in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.
- Rajeev Kumar, a 1989 batch IPS officer, headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Mamata Banerjee government after the Saradha ponzi scam came to light in 2013, a year before the CBI took up the case on Supreme Court order. In 2014, the then CJI TS Thakur and Justice Nagappan had ordered the CBI investigation in Saradha chit fund scam.
- The CBI officials, however, were stopped by the Kolkata police and some of them were even taken into custody.
- Mamata, accompanied by state police Director General Virendra then rushed to the police commissioner’s home. After over an hour, Banerjee came out of Kumar's residence and lashed out at National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, claiming he was giving instructions to the CBI at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
- She then announced that she will sit on a dharna to “save institutions, constitution and the federal structure” of the country. “This is a satyagraha," she said, speaking to the media. Mamata’s dharna entered its second day on Monday.
- Kolkata police commissioner and other officers, state ministers and Trinamool leaders joined her in her protest. Several Opposition leaders too spoke out in support of Mamata Banerjee. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and leaders from the southern states, including JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and DMK leader MK Stalin, too, expressed their solidarity with Mamata Banerjee. (Also read: CBI row: Opposition leaders from Deve Gowda to Stalin rush to support CM Mamata)
- Meanwhile, the CBI on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against West Bengal Chief Secretary, DGP and Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for obstructing an SC directed probe by CBI into the chit fund scam.
- The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the CBI’s petition on Tuesday at 10.30 am. It said that the CBI is permitted to bring the material on record to support its claim that the West Bengal Police Commissioner is trying to destroy evidence.
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday spoke to the Governor of West Bengal Keshari Nath Tripathi to get apprised of the situation on the ground. The Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report on the role of the IPS officers over allegations of obstructing investigation and violation of Service Conduct Rules related to Sunday's incident in Kolkata.
- Amidst all this, the newly appointed CBI chief Rishi Kumar Shukla took charge of the probe agency on Monday. A 1983-batch IPS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, he was appointed as the 28th Director General of Police (DGP) of Madhya Pradesh on June 30, 2016, and replaces Alok Verma, who was removed unceremoniously on January 10.