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10-day CBI custody for Trinamool's Anubrata in cattle smuggling case

10-day CBI custody for Trinamool's Anubrata in cattle smuggling case

Kolkata, Aug 11 (UNI) The CBI on Thursday arrested West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal, considered a close associate of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in connection with the alleged cattle smuggling scam. He was remanded to CBI custody by a
special court till August 20.
"The Central Bureau of Investigation today (Thursday) arrested an accused during further investigation of a case related to alleged illegal cross-border trade of cattle.
"The accused assisted and showed fictitious business activities to regularise the ill-gotten money.
The said accused was consistently avoiding CBI’s summons for long and not cooperating with the CBI investigation into the case," said a spokesperson of the federal investigative agency.
On Wedenesday, Mondal had skipped the federal investigative agency's 10th summons for interrogation.
Mondal, TMC's national executive committee member and Birbhum district president, had appeared before the CBI sleuths only once in connection with the cattle smuggling case despite being summoned multiple times.
Amidst a tight security ring thrown in by the central forces, Mondal was presented before the Special Court in Asansol, where the CBI counsel prayed for 14-day custody. The defence counsel did not seek bail.
After hearing both sides, the judge ordered that Mondal be kept in CBI custody till August 20, as workers of left parties and the BJP shouted slogans outside the court premises, calling Mondal a "thief".
The CBI sleuths reached Mondal's home in Nichupatty area under Ilambazar block of Birbhum around 10 AM on Thursday in a fleet of cars and decided to arrest him after some intense grilling.
A contingent of central forces had put up a security ring around the house after the CBI officers entered the premises. Nobody was allowed to enter or go out of the house till the time Mondal
was led out in a convoy of cars.
Mondal was taken to the Eastern Coalfield Limited's guest house in Sheetalpur of Paschim Bardhaman district for another round of questioning and medical tests. Sources said the central forces virtually converted the guest house into a fortress. According to an official, a reluctant
Mondal finally signed the arrest memo around 4 PM.
The CBI had registered the cattle trafficking case on September 21, 2020, against four accused including then Commandant, BSF. Searches were earlier conducted at various locations across
the country at the premises of the accused. Several accused were also arrested during the
course of the investigation.
"During the investigation, the illegal cross-border selling of cattle, the related movement, delivery
and use of ill-gotten money, was found. It was also alleged that the accused persons were organising and patronising large-scale illegal cattle smuggling to neighbouring country and collecting huge money from other persons. It was also revealed that the accused procured a huge number of cattle from Illambazar Pashuhat (animal market) and ensured safe passage for transportation of cattle to the international border," the CBI spokesperson said.
The CBI filed charge-sheet on February six last year against seven accused persons and further filed three supplementary charge-sheets on February 23 and November 24 last year and very recently on August 8 against several other accused.
"Further investigation was continuing to unearth the larger conspiracy," the spokesperson said.
Among those arrested were Mondal's bodyguard.Segal Hussain, with the sleuths claiming that he was linked to assets worth over Rs 100 crore.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool seemed to be distancing itself from the arrested leader.
"The party does not give indulgence to any unethical or corrupt activity. If anybody cheats people or does anything which is damaging to the masses, our party will not back such leaders," state minister
Chandrima Bhattacharya told the media..
Mondal is also under the CBI scanner in connection with the alleged smuggling of coal and has faced a round of grilling from the premier probe agency for his purported involvement in the violence in the
state after last year's Assembly polls.
Mondal, known for his repeated inciteful comments, had in 2013 asked his partymen to "bomb the police" and "torch the houses of independent candidates" in the panchayat elections.
In 2018, he was accused of resorting to strongarm tactics to prevent opposition candidates from filing their nominations in the Panchayat polls.
The Election Commission of India and the judiciary had kept him under strong vigil on more than once occasions during general elections following complaints from opposition candidates about his involvement in electoral malpractices.
Mondal is the second prominent Trinamool leader to be arrested recently. Last month the then-party secretary general and state commerce and industries minister Partha Chatterjee was taken into
custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged irregularities in the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff in government-aided schools during his tenure as education minister.

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