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In the latest development of the coal smuggling case in West Bengal, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned eight IPS officers to New Delhi. In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a charge sheet against 41 people in connection with a coal smuggling case.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the IPS officers are Gyanwant Singh, Koteswara Rao, S Selvamurugan, Shyam Singh, Rajiv Mishra, Sukesh Kumar Jain, Bhaskar Mukherjee and Tathagata Basu.

The report further mentioned that ED officials have summoned the IPS officers to Delhi in phases after 15 August. Three of these officers were questioned in 2021 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is also probing the case.

Gyanwant Singh in the additional director general of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) which is carrying out a parallel probe into the coal smuggling. Some state police officers are also suspects in this case.

On 4 April 2021, Ashok Mishra, the officer-in-charge of Bankura police station, was arrested by the ED from Delhi. He was also questioned by the CBI. Mishra was later released on bail.

On 15 July, the CBI had arrested then General Manager (now retired) Pandaveswar Area of Eastern Coalfields Limited in an ongoing investigation of a case. The arrested accused was identified as Subhas Kumar Mukhopadhyay, then GM (now retired) Pandaveswar Area of Eastern Coalfields Limited.

The charge sheet that was filed against 41 accused by CBI includes Anup Majhi, the prime accused in the case, and former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Vinay Mishra.

Earlier in the year, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee had been summoned on 29 March by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a coal smuggling case. Banerjee was also questioned for eight long hours by the ED on 21 March. The parliamentarian was questioned about two firms with alleged links to his family members and foreign bank accounts connected to his wife Rujira Banerjee.

Understanding the coal smuggling case

The eastern Coalfields (ECL) has come under the scanner of the investigative agencies after a case was registered in September 2020 alleging that ECL employees and officials of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), railway department and unknown others had fraudulently misappropriated coal from the coal reserves of the leasehold areas under the ECL. 

The complain further states that they had also allegedly taken coal from the coal stock parked in the railway sidings for sale and supply. It was further alleged that the said accused had obtained cash bribes from a private person to smuggle coal.

The CBI later lodged an FIR against Anup Majhi and unknown others for illegally extracting coal. Sources said illegal coal worth crores of rupees was smuggled with the help of government officials and politicians.

In June, the CBI had announced a reward of 1 lakh for providing information about absconding former TMC youth leader Vinay Mishra in the case.

It had earlier questioned TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Narula Banerjee twice.

 

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