Bengal Police Unable to Quiz Businessman Guarded by Assam Police

A team went to the residence of Ashok Dhanuka in Guwahati, but people inside the house refused to open the door
Representative Image
Representative Image

A team of West Bengal police who arrived in Guwahati to meet and question a businessman suspected of supplying the money seized from three Jharkhand Congress legislators, were unable to meet him. The people inside the house of businessman, which was guarded by armed Assam Police personnel refused to open the door.

“A team went to the residence of Ashok Dhanuka in Guwahati, but people inside the house refused to open the door. The house was guarded by Assam police personnel armed with automatic rifles,” a criminal investigation department officer said as reported by Hindustan Times.

“Before leaving, the team pasted a notice on the door, asking Dhanuka to report at the CID headquarters in Kolkata at 10 am on Monday,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.

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Officials of the Assam police did not respond to requests for a comment on the matter.

The HT report however, stated that this is the third time the CID faced trouble carrying out the investigation since the arrest of Jamtara legislator Irfan Ansari, Khijri MLA Rajesh Kachhap and Kolebira MLA Naman Bixal in West Bengal’s Howrah district. They were detained on July 30 and questioned overnight before being taken into custody.

The report further stated that a sum of ₹49 lakh in cash was found inside Ansari’s car in which the MLAs were travelling. Although the lawmakers claimed they brought the money from Jharkhand to buy sarees from a wholesale market in Kolkata for distribution at a tribal festival, CID officers said they found discrepancies in their statements.

The CID probe revealed that the trio flew to Guwahati on July 29 and returned to Kolkata on July 30, when the money was allegedly delivered to them in a hotel.

However, it turned a new turn on August 3 when two CID teams were allegedly stopped by Delhi and Assam Police.

The CID team in Delhi was armed with a search warrant issued by the chief judicial magistrate of Howrah district to raid the residence of Sidharth Majumder, a businessman, at Moti Bagh South in Chanakyapuri. The CID suspects that Majumdar fixed appointments between Ansari, Kachhap and Bixal and “an important person in Assam.”

Local police cited technical grounds while stopping him from searching Majumder’s residence, said Arijit Bhattacharya, additional officer-in-charge, CID, who was leading the team in Delhi.

In a similar development, a second CID team was allegedly detained by Assam police soon after it landed at Guwahati airport to collect security camera footage showing the three MLAs reaching the state capital on July 29 and leaving on July 30. It is alleged that Assam government cars were sent to the airport.

Ansari claimed during interrogation that he went to Guwahati to talk to a school administration for his son’s admission, but the other legislators could not provide any plausible explanation, CID officials said.

Suspended by the Congress on July 31 and accused of accepting money from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to help it topple the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led coalition government, the MLAs earlier appealed for a stay on the CID investigation and transfer of the case to the CBI or any other central probe agency.

The Calcutta high court turned down both appeals on August 4, saying accused persons cannot choose the investigating agencies. The court also observed that the CID has full authority to conduct the probe since the cash was seized from the vehicle in which the MLAs were travelling in West Bengal.

The CID has interrogated Kolkata-based stockbroker Mahendra Agarwal, who is suspected to have handed over the money to a messenger sent by the MLAs on July 30 while they were sitting in a restaurant at Kolkata’s Sudder Street. They briefly used a room at the hotel located inside the same campus, but their names were not entered in the hotel’s register.

Agarwal claimed during interrogation that someone had given him a bag, saying it was to be given to the MLAs. He also claimed that he did not know what the bag contained.

“He said the bag was kept in his office at Bikaner Building at Lalbazar in central Kolkata. He said he received a call from Guwahati,” said a CID officer who did not want to be identified.

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