The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered police to probe the Narada sting tapes. “State government will conduct probe in the matter. I want the truth to come out,” she said. The Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar will head the probe.
It may be recalled that Narada News , editor-in-chief Mathew Samuel, had released several videos named X files of a sting operation showing senior Trinamool Congress, including some ministers, accepting money for getting works done. The ruling party had dismissed the tapes as “doctored” and said the “dirty tricks departments” of its political opponents were behind the “smear” campaign.
The editor in chief of Narada News Mathew Samuel had this to say on the probe ordered by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee : “Rajeev Kumar was the commissioner who was in charge of the Saradha scam. Also before Elections he was removed by the Election commission. Further Narada is a sub-judice matter at this stage is there any need to order such probe?”
Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) at Hyderabad is inspecting the video footage currently and Narada has already handed over the raw footage and equipments used during the sting operation. Opposition parties targeted the ruling TMC in West Bengal after the sting operation was published and it had been a major issue in the assembly polls. The Left Front, Congress and the BJP joined hands and criticised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for lying to people that her party is corruption free while people under her nose had been engaging in the most corrupt practices in the state.
According to a report published in the Indian Express, The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “State government will conduct probe in the matter. I want the truth to come out.”
Narada sting footage controversy consisted a number of Trinamool Congress leaders caught red-handed, accepting wads of currency notes, on camera.
“If anybody is guilty, he will be punished. I have asked the Chief Secretary to order a probe,” Banerjee told mediapersons at the state secretariat Nabanna according to IANS.
Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee said city Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar will conduct the inquiry.
“After the preliminary enquiry, there will be investigation. Then everything according to law will be done,” said the bureaucrat.
The Chief Minister said the probe will go into all aspects of the Narada sting issue, including whether there was a “controversy behind it” and try to find out all those who hatched it.
“Today I gave a note to the Chief Secretary to start a probe on the entire episode. We also discussed the matter threadbare. A controversy was stirred up by conducting the so-called sting. It was a provocation and conspiracy to create a hostile public reaction.”
“We want the truth to come out. We want to know who all were behind the sting. I have seen on a number of occasions attempts were made to defame Bengal. We don’t want that,” she said.
Made public on March 14, barely weeks ahead of the start of the assembly polls, the sting became a major election issue for the opposition.
Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovon Chatterjee and Suvendu Adhikari, who also figured in the footage, have become ministers in the present government.
Narada news portal chief executive Mathew Samuel said the Calcutta High Court was seized with the issue and was the best forum to decide on it.
The court ordered a forensic test on the Narada tapes in late April while hearing a Public Interest Litigations seeking an independent agency probe into the sting.
“Let the High Court decision come out. Let the High court decide. That is the best way to probe it.”
Samuel also dismissed as “baseless allegation” Banerjee’s charge that there was a “conspiracy” behind the sting controversy.
The state’s opposition parties and a section of the civil society sniggered at Banerjee’s probe order.
Leader of the opposition Abdul Mannan referred to Rajeev Kumar’s past as Bidhanagar police commissioner that 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 Banerjee’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.
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 Banerjee’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,” said Sen.