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Bengal CID probing ‘MLA cash haul’ says ‘restrained’ in capital, Delhi Police deny allegation

CID team, in Delhi to conduct searches, say they were 'stopped from doing lawful duty'. Delhi Police say they found 'legal discrepancies' in CID's warrant.

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New Delhi: A team of the West Bengal Crime Investigation Department (CID), which had reached the national capital to conduct searches in its probe into the cash allegedly seized from three Jharkhand MLAs, was allegedly “restrained” Wednesday morning by the Delhi Police. The Delhi Police, however, claimed they weren’t restrained but that their search warrant had “legal discrepancies”. 

“In the course of investigation, a team of CID which had gone to Delhi to execute a search warrant issued by court has been stopped from doing their lawful duty on the directions of DCP South West,” the CID said in an official statement. 

The CID has now sought the intervention of Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora. 

However, Manoj C., DCP (South West), Delhi Police, said, “A team of West Bengal Police arrived today for the execution of a search warrant in South West district, Delhi. Initially, Delhi Police provided all necessary assistance to West Bengal Police for the execution of the search warrant. However, legal discrepancies were noticed during execution of the same. Accordingly, legal opinion was sought which revealed that the warrant is not executable. The same was conveyed to West Bengal Police.”

Explaining the process of police carrying out searches outside their own state, another Delhi Police officer said that the station house officer (SHO) concerned has to be informed first before a search can be conducted with assistance from local police. 

Nine states, including West Bengal, had earlier -withdrawn general consent for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases in areas under their jurisdictions. The West Bengal government had alleged that the CBI was probing the post-poll violence cases without securing the pre-requisite nod from it.

On 2 August, the West Bengal CID had obtained a search warrant from a magistrate’s court to search the premises of businessman Sidharth Majumdar’s residence in Delhi’s posh Chanakyapuri area. 

Sources in the CID told ThePrint that the agency had seized documents that hint at a conspiracy and that it was thus required to further conduct searches and probe Majumdar in connection with the Rs 49 lakh seized from the suspended Congress MLAs.

The CID has carried out multiple searches in Kolkata since Monday morning to gather more evidence. It has also seized CCTV footage from a central Kolkata hotel where the three MLAs — Rajesh Kachchap, Irfan Ansari and Naman Bixal — had checked in to use the washroom and bar for approximately 20 minutes on the day of their arrest. 

How the case unfolded

The three suspended Jharkhand Congress MLAs had been detained for questioning by the Howrah police in West Bengal after their vehicle was allegedly found loaded with cash on 30 July.

Howrah (Rural) superintendent of police Swati Bhangalia told ThePrint the force intercepted their car in Uluberia near Kolkata after receiving specific inputs. “The cash amount was so high that we had to use currency counting machines to ascertain the amount,” she added.

Kachchap, Ansari and Bixal were arrested formally Sunday, and a court sent them to 10-day police remand. On Tuesday, a CID team raided an office in Central Kolkata where a  bag of cash had allegedly been handed over to the arrested MLAs’ close aide, Kumar Pratik. At the premises, CID officers said they had recovered Rs 3 lakh in cash, and they are now probing a hawala angle as well. Police also arrested Pratik Sunday.

However, one of the arrested MLAs, Ansari, claimed they were carrying the cash to Kolkata to buy sarees from a wholesale market to distribute to Adivasi women in Jharkhand during an annual public event. 

After interrogation, the Howrah police claimed the trio gave contradictory statements. During the probe, police claimed to have found that the MLAs had also travelled to Guwahati by road and were returning to Jharkhand. 

This article has been updated to include a statement from Delhi Police DCP Manoj C.

With inputs from Bismee Taskin

(Edited by Tony Rai)


Also Read: ‘Falsehood, devoid of facts’ — Punjab Police chief rebuts claims of deteriorating law & order


 

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