After the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee ordered Kolkata police commissioner to probe the NaradaNews Sting X Files which exposed the corruption among leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), wife of Kolkata Mayor and state environment Minister Sovan Chatterjee, who was caught red-handed accepting bribe on camera, lodged an FIR against Mathew Samuel, the editor-in- chief of Narada News.
Kolkata commissioner Rajeev Kumar is the same officer who gave a clean chit to Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the Saradha scam.
The Narada News sting showed several ministers and lawmakers of TMC accepting bribe in return for favours to a fictitious company.
The sting videos are already being investigated by the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee.
A case is also pending on the issue in the Calcutta High Court, the hearing of which is scheduled on June 24.
Ratna Chatterjee, Sovan Chatterjee’s wife, claimed she had not mentioned anyone’s name in the FIR but had only said that the sting operation had adversely affected her reputation as well as her husband’s and requested police to investigate the matter.
The complaint was filed at the New Market police station at 10 pm on Saturday following which the Kolkata Police Detective Department lodged the FIR and initiated a probe into the sting operation.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has also been formed.
Samuel has now been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 171G (false statement in connection with an election), 469 (forgery for the purpose of hampering reputation), 500 (defamation), 505 (1) (B) (statements conducing to public mischief) under the IPC.
“TMC is attempting to shoot the messenger. First they claimed the sting is doctored, after which the raw footage was published by Narada News. All the footage shot by Narada News and the equipments used have been submitted to the Calcutta high court. The authenticity of the tapes and footage can be verified. Now they are claiming conspiracy behind the whole motive, Samuel said.
“The motive was to expose the corruption among people’s representatives. Not to defame anyone. We have followed journalistic ethics and are open to any inquiry. These are attempts being made by TMC to cover up the issue as the opposition parties have put up a strong protest,” he added.
Leader of the opposition Abdul Mannan referred to Rajeev Kumar’s past role as Bidhanagar police commissioner. He was entrusted with the task of probing the multi-billion rupee Saradha chit fund scam in 2013 before the inquiry was handed over to the CBI following a Supreme Court order.
“The person who failed to arrest even a single person despite probing the chit fund scam for two years, cannot be expected to carry out a proper probe. He has been asked to give a clean chit. She is trying to fool the people,” said Mannan, a Congress lawmaker.
CPI-M legislature party leader Sujon Chakraborty also targeted Kumar. “This is a new plot in the drama. Everybody knows the outcome of such probes. The Special Investigation Team formed for the chit fund probe only tried to hush it up, by destroying incriminating papers,” said Chakraborty.
CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra also ridiculed Mamata’s decision. “The accused in the Narada sting now declares to conduct an investigation and that too by its henchman cop!! Farce of the d highest order!” Mishra tweeted.
“It is a classic example of ‘chori aur seena jori’. What hurts me most is that Sovan has tainted the chair which was once occupied by people like Chittaranjan Das and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose while the CM, instead of removing him, has empowered him even further with other portfolios so that he can resort to even more corrupt practices,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Former Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly said with the Calcutta High Court conducting a probe, it was “not proper” to hold a parallel inquiry.
Theatre personality Kaushik Sen said Mamata’s announcement proved “the existence of some crime”.
“That’s the reason she has now ordered a probe. This shows the allegations had some basis,” Sen said.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha demanded a CBI inquiry into the sting operation: “The CM has once again engaged her favourite police officer to tamper with the evidence just like in the Saradha probe. This case should be handled by CBI for an unbiased investigation.”
(Inputs by IANS)