Monday, April 22, 2024

Modi-Shah out to trouble Mamata govt before Lok Sabha Polls


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ED to adopt more vindictive posture in tmc-ruled West Bengal

By Arun Srivastava

Air dashing of the Enforcement Director Rahul Navin just around midnight on the fourth day of the attack on the team of his sleuths investigating alleged ration distribution scam in West Bengal is not only meant to boost the morale of his men; instead it has got multiple dimensions.
If he was simply on a mission to enquire about the well-being of his men, he should have landed in Calcutta during the day. But it is the timing that gives rise to speculation about his real intentions. During his meeting to console his men, Navin used two important words: “do not fear” and “take help from the NIA.” He had told his officers to “carry on with the probes into the multiple corruption investigations in the state without fear or favour.”
His assuring the ED sleuths not to fear has indeed got wider implications. The ED officials have no reason to be afraid, if they are on the right side and acting in a fair manner. It also implied that Navin intends to counsel his men not to get scared of the state government. Without targeting police and giving it a bad name, the ED cannot succeed in its mission to show the Mamata government in a bad light and felicitate its political masters to use this tool to malign and smear Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government.
Bengal government sources nonetheless assess the motivational speech with caution. They suspect that the ED in future would adopt a more aggressive posture and would take stringent measures against the political opponents of Modi and Shah. These sources confide that Navin’s mission to Bengal has the blessings of Shah.
Significantly, the ED has come out afresh with the allegation of non-cooperation by the state police, notwithstanding state police denying this charge. It is a fact that in a federal structure, the police of a state are bound to cooperate with the central agency. It is worth mentioning that Amit Shah has been consistently targeting the state police and accusing it of not carrying out the instructions of the ministry of home affairs. Earlier, the then police commissioner of Kolkata Police was targeted for not toeing Shah’s line and following his diktat.
Nearly a year back, Shah had suggested setting up independent offices of the NIA in each state. It would act independently and would virtually have no relation with the state police. This was certainly a suggestion with ominous intentions. It underscored his plan to turn the state police subservient to the NIA and take the instructions from it. Under the existing working arrangement, the state police works in complete understanding with the central authorities. With NIA in operation, the state police will be left with petty crimes only. All other cases would automatically come under the ambit of the NIA.
Even today, it is noticed that small cases like clashes between two parties are referred to the NIA on the pretext that it involves national security. Naturally, NIA will be the overriding and dictating authority. The suggestion of Navin to look to the NIA for help ought to be looked into this background. The ED chief held a high-level meeting with the senior officials of the CRPF, CISF and BSF to discuss how to launch a coordinated, multi-pronged attack on corruption. Even the SP of NIA was present. But it does not appear that any senior official of Bengal police was there at the meeting. Incidentally, Rajeev Kumar who was the target of Shah when Kumar was the Commissioner of Kolkata Police, is now the DG of Bengal Police.
Evidently, the ministry of home affairs was ignoring state police through the director of ED. In all fairness, Navin could have contacted the top officials of the state police and sought their version. Interestingly, the meeting took place a day after CRPF Inspector-General Birendra Kumar Sharma met the Governor and apprised him of the incident. On his part, Navin also met Governor CV Ananda Bose and briefed him about the progress of the investigations and what steps were being contemplated to ensure that investigators do not face any problems while conducting probes in West Bengal.
The attitude of the ED towards state police is manifest in its allegation that the local police was diluting the cases slapped against the accused in connection with the assault, which left three agency officers grievously injured. It also alleged that local police did not nab the absconding Trinamool leader and it has also failed to make any arrests so far on the mass assault of ED, CRPF and media persons, looting and destruction of their property. The ED has filed an FIR with the local police, but the main question is why Navin is reluctant to talk to top officials of Bengal police.
Reacting to the news of the multiple meetings by the ED, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said: “This is all a drama being coordinated by the BJP. The list is being given by BJP leaders and the agencies are asked to raid the Trinamool leaders whose names are given.”
Nevertheless Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday accused the Modi government of using probe agencies to “target opposition leaders with false cases”. She said “They (BJP) are scared of the TMC, hence they visit the houses of TMC leaders and arrest them in fake cases. They think that before elections they will arrest all leaders and win. It is not so easy”. She even accused BJP of sharing fake videos on social media platforms and said that police complaints should be registered in such cases: “BJP shares fake videos on social media. Don’t believe in fake videos. Go complain about it to the police”.
The ED is still busy investigating the scam, but with the intention of deprecating Mamata government it issued statement asserting that the magnitude of this “scam” was “enormous” and proceeds of crime transferred by a suspect amounts to Rs 9,000-10,000 crore, out of which Rs 2,000 crore are “suspected to be transferred to Dubai either directly or through Bangladesh”. It has already arrested a Trinamool minister Jyotipriya Mallick and his aide Bakibur Rahaman in this case. (IPA Service)


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