Coal scam: CBI conducts raids across 3 states including Bengal
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday launched a massive search operation, reportedly raiding around 40 sites across three states in connection with a coal mafia case. Most of these locations are spread across West Bengal, where the alleged kingpin of the illegal operation, Anup Majhi alias 'Lala', is based. Reportedly, raids are also on or set to begin in Jharkhand and Bihar.
Out of the 40 sites, 25 sites raided are located in West Bengal, NDTV reported. These include locations in Asansol, where Majhi lives, along with Durgapur, Raniganj, Bishnupur, etc. Majhi allegedly runs an operation in open cast coal mines along the Bengal-Jharkhand border. The homes and offices of the suspect, along with those of his associates, are being raided, sources told the publication.
The coal racket may have funded some political parties in the state, sources said. Officials are also probing the coal racket in connection with a cattle smuggling ring. Sources told Mirror Now that the illegal coal was allegedly transported from South Bengal to North Bengal in cattle smuggling trucks. Details of hawala transactions and shell companies are also under the scanner, the sources added.
Earlier this month, the CBI had arrested the alleged "kingpin" of the cattle smuggling racket, a Murshidabad resident named Enamul Haque. He is currently on interim bail after testing positive for COVID-19. A Border Security Force officer linked to cattle smuggling was also arrested.
The Income Tax department was also investing Majhi and had served him three notices earlier this month, out of which, he is reported to have acknowledged two, according to India Today. The notices were served around the time when Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited state capital Kolkata. He had then asked, "Why is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee so concerned about raids against 'Lala'?"
The raids come months before the 294-member West Bengal Assembly elections in April-May next year. Notably, Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, has been making strides in the state. In the 2019 general elections, the BJP had emerged as the ruling Trinamool Congress' main rival, bagging 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.