Kolkata: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Abhishek Banerjee, the national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress, to appear for questioning on Tuesday, June 13, in relation to the school recruitment scam. This summons came shortly after his wife, Rujira Banerjee, was questioned for three hours by the ED in connection with the coal pilferage case.
In response, Abhishek issued a statement stating that he does not have time to waste before the panchayat polls and made it clear that he would not be attending the questioning. He believed that the timing of the summons, coinciding with the announcement of the Bengal panchayat polls and right after Rujira’s questioning, was not a mere coincidence. Abhishek mentioned that he is currently involved in a party program that will conclude on June 16, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be present. He stated that he does not have time until the panchayat polls are over and suggested that they can call him after July 8. Abhishek emphasized that this is the time to engage with the people, not the ED and CBI offices. He also criticized the BJP, suggesting that they may be using the ED and CBI to find candidates for the panchayat polls.
Rujira was questioned by the ED after 18 days of Abhishek’s questioning by the CBI in the school recruitments scam. The fresh summons issued to Abhishek Banerjee by the ED coincided with the announcement of the panchayat polls while he is currently on his Jono Sanyog Yatra.
Rujira Banerjee greeted the press with a namaskar gesture as she got into her car outside the ED office after her questioning, but she did not comment on the questioning itself. Her legal team indicated that they might file a contempt of court plea against the ED for preventing her from traveling abroad. The ED had served her a summons at the Kolkata airport on Monday when she, along with her children, was attempting to fly to Dubai. Rujira’s legal team claimed that she had emailed her itinerary two days before her planned journey. They will decide on Friday when to file the contempt plea.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee referred to a “media trial” and expressed her concerns, stating that a trial was taking place without evidence or justice. She also mentioned the possibility of filing a defamation case and questioned the credibility of the CBI and ED, suggesting that they have limitations too.
A team of ED officers from Delhi, led by joint director Pankaj Kumar, flew to Kolkata for the interrogation at the Salt Lake CGO Complex where the ED office is located. Rujira arrived around 12:30 pm after consulting her lawyers at home. Upon her arrival, the central paramilitary forces closed all three gates of the complex.
According to ED sources, Rujira’s questioning began 50 minutes later in the interrogation room adjacent to the ED joint director’s chamber. Her lawyer was kept at a distance during the questioning. The agency provided Rujira with a three-page questionnaire regarding transactions involving her bank account during the period of peak coal smuggling between 2014 and 2019. Rujira’s lawyers claimed that she was asked to answer 30 questions, some of which were related to her intended travel to Dubai. The ED wanted to ascertain whether Rujira had any knowledge of those transactions.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) sources revealed, Rujira Banerjee was questioned about WhatsApp messages exchanged between two specific phone numbers. The first number belonged to Ashok Kumar Mishra, a former inspector of Bankura police station, while the second number belonged to Niraj Singh, who serves as Anup Majee’s accountant. Anup Majee is the main accused in the coal mining scam. One of these messages indicated transactions amounting to 1.5 million Baht. Additionally, ED officials discovered a photograph of a 1,000 Baht Thai currency note sent by Mishra to Singh, along with a bank account number in Thailand.