THE Central Bureau of Investigation finally filed a first information report (FIR) formally starting its probe against top Trinamool Congress leaders who were seen in a video footage “receiving illegal gratification”, or cash for unspecified favours.
Narada news video footage, shot in 2014 but shown in 2016 showed how top TMC leaders, including ministers, members of parliament, mayor of Kolkata received money.
The Calcutta High Court in a verdict delivered on March 17 ordered the CBI to investigate if people in “high public offices” were guilty of corruption. The state moved the Supreme Court within days, but the apex court upheld the Calcutta High Court’s judgement, while giving the CBI one month to conduct a preliminary inquiry.
CBI has started its investigation under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code. CBI has in its FIR named at least 13 persons –everyone who was seen receiving cash. State ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Shovan Chatterjee, Suvendu Adhikary; MPs Mukul Roy, Sougata Roy, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Aparupa Poddar; MLA Iqbal Ahmed, former minister Madan Mitra have been named. IPS officer MA Mirza was another accused. They were indicted under various sections of corruption, criminal conspiracy and fraud.
CBI investigation has found the video tape genuine, after forensic laboratories confirmed examination and found it to be authentic. On that basis, CBI has started the process of booking the accused persons.
After Sarada and Rose Valley chit fund scams, Narada footage is another example of the loot-raj by the TMC in West Bengal. Two Trinamool MPs, Sudip Banerjee and Tapas Paul are already in the CBI custody for their alleged links in the chit fund scam.
Left Front in West Bengal demanded that all accused be taken into custody and interrogated. Left Front organised processions demanding immediate arrest of the Trinamool Congress leaders named in the FIR. Rallies and protest meetings were organised throughout the state.
CPI(M) state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra demanded the immediate arrest of those mentioned in the FIR by the CBI. "The untold stories in the Narada tape should be disclosed to unearth many more TMC leaders whose names are yet to be made public. They should also be interrogated and punished," he said. Mishra also demanded immediate dismissal of the ministers who were found taking money during the sting operation. Mishra quipped, "The Modi-government is silent on the Narada issue, as the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee is yet to make any progress on the matter even after 100 days."