2 of Mamata’s Ministers in Hospital Shortly After Arrest
The leaders had filed for bail that was challenged by the CBI and later stayed by the Calcutta High Court.
Bringing an end to a stormy day in West Bengal after being arrested by the CBI in connection with the Narada bribery case, four Trinamool Congress affiliates – ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and ex-Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee – were taken to prison late on Monday, 17 May.
However, just hours after they were taken to the Presidency Correctional Home, two of them – Mitra and Chatterjee – were rushed to the hospital around 4 am after they complained of breathlessness.
Panchayat Minister Mukherjee, too, was taken to the hospital for a brief period for medical examination.
The four had sought bail that was challenged by the CBI and was later stayed by the Calcutta High Court.
CBI Will Have to Arrest Me: Mamata
A furious Mamata Banerjee had landed at the CBI office at Nizam Palace in Kolkata on Monday morning after the arrest of the four leaders and spent over six hours there.
The Raj Bhavan said that the Governor gave the prosecution sanction against the four, invoking his powers under Article 163 and 164 of the Constitution as “at the relevant time of the commission of the crime they were holding the position of ministers in the West Bengal government”.
“The way they have been arrested without due procedure, CBI will have to arrest me also,” the Bengal Chief Minister challenged.
Scores of Trinamool workers gathered outside the office protesting the arrests and pelted stones at paramilitary officers, reports stated.
Tensions Run High
Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari, who were among the Trinamool leaders allegedly caught taking bribes, have since joined the BJP. They are now BJP MLAs after contesting the state election. All four were ministers in the previous Mamata Banerjee government when the crime was committed, but their prosecution was not sanctioned.
This issue comes at a time when high tension has risen between the state and the Centre after Mamata Banerjee's landslide victory in the polls. Legal experts pointed out that the CBI violated due process of the law in carrying out the arrests, for which there was no urgency.
All the arrested leaders were accused of accepting Rs 4-5 lakh as bribes in a sting operation by a journalist from Delhi who posed as a businessman that was later released as ‘Narada Tapes’ before the 2016 Assembly elections.
CPI(M) in a statement said the CBI action was an attempt to divert attention from the central government’s failure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
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