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Coal scam: CBI raids 40 places in three states, including West Bengal

The anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday carried out raids at around 40 premises in three states, including about 25 places in West Bengal, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged coal mafia and bribery cases. The offices and home of Asansol-based kingpin Anup Majhi and that of his associates in Asansol, Durgapur, and Raniganj in Burdwan district, as well as Bishnupur in South 24 Parganas district.

Three income tax notices were served on Majhi earlier this month, though he only acknowledged two. Around the same time, Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Kolkata. At a press conference, Shah asked why Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was concerned about raids against Majhi?

The West Bengal Chief Minister questioned the coincidence of the searches and raids in her state by the Central agencies with the Home Minister’s visit. The CBI cracked down on a cattle smuggling case in West Bengal in which Manjhi was arrested and an IT probe into Majhi’s alleged racket was instituted. He was, however, released on bail after testing Covid-19 positive.

West Bengal’s coal dealer Anup Majhi was earlier interrogated by a host of investigating agencies for alleged involvement in illegal mining and operating fake companies to mask dubious business as legitimate operations.  The officers of the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence raided Majhi’s 20 offices in Kolkata and a few offices in Dhanbad, Purulia and Asansol. The agencies claimed that they found documents linking both Majhi and Joydeb Mondal to an illegal coal empire worth Rs 20,000 crore.

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West Bengal is due to elect a new state assembly in April-May 2021. The BJP is expected to give a tough fight to the ruling Trinamool Congress. After its victory in 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, the BJP has not looked so strong in the state.

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