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In new TMC-governor row, Mamata’s party wants Dhankhar booked for ‘hampering corruption probe’

Trinamool Congress’ attack on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar came after he took to Twitter to question Kolkata Police’s raids at the offices of three chartered accountants last week.

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Kolkata: The ruling Trinamool Congress of West Bengal Thursday suggested police action against Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, marking a new low in the strained relationship between the Raj Bhavan and the state government.

At a press conference, Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee accused Dhankhar of “colluding with criminals of the BJP” and “obstructing public servants from discharging their duties”.

The allegations came after Dhankhar took to Twitter to question the Kolkata Police’s raids at the offices of three chartered accountants (CAs) last week. The raids followed the 21 November arrest of an alleged middleman, Govind Agarwal, who is accused of laundering money through a web of shell firms.

Citing inputs from the “CA fraternity”, Dhankhar, in a tweet dated 22 November, cried foul about a “politically inspired operation” by Kolkata Police that “targets CAs”, alleging that the raids were aimed at undermining members of a team “that raided mafia”.

Banerjee said Dhankhar’s tweet “supporting criminals” amounted to an attempt to “influence” the investigation. 

“I have said it before and I will say it again, the governor has secret links with BJP criminals and other criminals,” he added, addressing the media at Trinamool Bhavan, the party headquarters, Thursday. 

“Those who obstruct a criminal investigation can be prosecuted under Sections 186 and 189 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). So, I will request Kolkata Police to file a case against him for the way he is tweeting to intimidate the public servants. Under these two sections, no permission is required for this,” he added. 

However, senior Kolkata Police officers pointed out that governors, along with the President, had immunity from criminal proceedings under Article 361 of the Constitution. “No case can be lodged against the constitutional head like this,” said a senior officer of Kolkata Police

Responding to the Trinamool Congress’ allegations, Dhankhar said he stood by his claims even as he suggested the party was “ill-informed on law, fact and Constitution”.

Also Read: Bengal governor & home dept in Twitter spat after former claims state saw 223 rapes in August

‘Middleman’ at centre of raids

Agarwal, who allegedly runs hundreds of shell companies in the city, is also accused of cheating. Findings made by police in light of his arrest allegedly led them to raid the offices of three chartered accountants. 

Kolkata Police first filed a case against Agarwal in March 2017 under sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, cheating and also under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It was alleged that Agarwal laundered huge amounts of cash through shell companies for some people after demonetisation. Police subsequently raided his office. 

“In phases, we seized around Rs 3 to 4 crore from his office. We seized hundreds of documents and computers. We got details of some income tax officers who were working with him. One of them is an income tax commissioner, who is also accused in a case started by the Enforcement Directorate (ED),” said a senior Kolkata Police officer. 

There was no movement in the case over the past three years, the officer added. However, in September 2020, the ED, while investigating a money laundering case, again raided Agarwal’s office and got more incriminating evidence, the officer said. 

“We wrote to the ED and got those documents, based on which we arrested Agarwal,” the officer added.

Since the arrest, Dhankhar has not only lashed out at the raids against CAs, but also alleged massive corruption in Kolkata Police.

Trinamool’s attack on governor 

Kalyan Banerjee, an advocate and MP, said the Governor “expressed his dissatisfaction by tweeting on 22 November regarding the arrest of Govind Agarwal and some chartered accountants”. 

He added that Agarwal and an IRS officer named Niraj Singh had been booked by the ED, claiming that property worth Rs 3.88 crore has been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act Act.

“After the Kolkata Police’s investigation, Govind Agarwal was arrested and the names of many other chartered accountants came up. The governor is speaking on behalf of the accused and obstructing the investigation,” he added.

Reached for comment, Dhankhar said in a statement that the Trinamool Congress’ allegations were part of a “vituperative campaign to cover up monumental lapses and constitutional indiscretions”. 

“I rubbish any assertion made that indicates otherwise than my commitment for accountability and transparency,” he said.

“I would continue to discharge vigorously my constitutional obligations, undeterred by any diversionary strategic moves, and vindicate my oath of office. I, as constitutional head, cannot countenance Public Servants acting as political workers. This is too serious to be ignored. This will be dangerous to democracy,” he added. 

Also Read: CM Mamata is a nice person but her govt is ‘outsourced’ to private agency: Governor Dhankhar


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