A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team on Sunday paid a visit to the Kolkata residence of Abhishek Banerjee, TMC MP and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew. The team served a notice to his wife Rujira Banerjee and his sister-in-law Menaka Gambhir to join the probe in the coal pilferage case.
The Trinamool Congress accused the ruling BJP at the Centre of political vendetta and Abhishek Banerjee said they will not be pulled down by such tactics.
Who is Rujira Banerjee?
Rujira Banerjee or Rujira Naroola belongs to a Delhi/NCR-based business family. According to reports, she met Abhishek Banerjee in college and tied the knot in February 2012.
With the West Bengal Assembly election nearing, her name had been included in several rallies by BJP leaders. The BJP leaders also accused Abhishek of being a product of nepotism.
"According to Abhishek Banerjee’s affidavit filed before the Election Commission in 2019, Rujira Naroola is ‘salaried’, though there are no details of service given," The Print reported.
She is a Thai national and is an owner of an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. According to a report in Hindustan Times, during the time of her marriage, some outlets reported that her name was Jasmeet Ahuja. However, years later, very little is known about Rujira.
Backgrounder of the case
The notice to Banerjee's family members from the central agency came a day before a court in Kolkata is due to hear a defamation case filed by him against Home Minister Amit Shah who is spearheading the BJP campaign in the state, news agency PTI reported.
In November 2020, the CBI had registered an FIR against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket Manjhi alias Lala, Eastern Coalfield Ltd General Managers Amit Kumar Dhar (of then Kunustoria area now Pandaveswar area) and Jayesh Chandra Rai (Kajor area) besides ECL Chief of Security Tanmay Das, Area Security Inspector, Kunustoria Dhananjay Rai and SSI and security in-charge Kajor area Debashish Mukherjee.
It is alleged that accused Manjhi Lala is involved in the illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, the sources said.
The CBI has also summoned Binay Mishra, understood to be a close confidant of Abhishek Banerjee, in a separate case of cattle smuggling.
In a statement on the CBI action, the TMC on Sunday said that people will give a befitting reply to the BJP during the polls.
"So predictable. So desperate. All BJP allies have left them. So the only loyal allies are CBI and ED," it stated.
"CBI is the only ally of the BJP left," the party said, adding that it was not scared and will fight it out.
The BJP, which has been targeting the TMC over the corruption issue, said those who commit wrong need to be punished as per the law.
Also, this is not the first time Rujira has been involved in a controversy. In March 2019, she was held at the Netaji Subhash International Airport with a "significant quantity of gold" and was not allowing officials to scan her luggage.
Following this, the customs department had issued her a notice under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962.
Reportedly, the Calcutta High Court later dismissed the custom department’s notice.