KOLKATA/ ASANSOL: The CBI arrested TMC’s Birbhum strongman Anubrata Mandal in a cattle smuggling case on Thursday, making him the second prominent face from the party, after Partha Chatterjee, to be taken into custody by a central agency.
Mandal may have never been an MLA, let alone a minister, but TMC’s Birbhum district president is no pushover. For more than a decade, his ha s been the last word in party affairs in a district with a complex demography, including over 37% Muslims. Mandal had left Congress to follow Mamata Banerjee when she founded TMC. He helped
TMC consolidate its position in Birbhum. Of the 11 assembly seats there, TMC won 10 in 2021. In 2019, it won both LS seats — Bolpur and Birbhum.
A CBI team, backed by a 100-strong CRPF contingent, picked up Mandal from his Bolpur home in the morning and later announced his arrest. A special CBI court remanded him in CBI custody for 10 days.
CBI officials said they suspected money was collected on Mandal’s behalf by his arrested security guard Saigal Hossain from cattle smugglers between 2015 and 2017. Investigators have identified bank accounts of Mandal in which huge amounts of allegedly ill-gotten cash was parked, CBI told the court.
TMC termed the arrest “blatantly partisan” and urged the judiciary to take note of investigations conducted by central agencies to allegedly serve their political masters. “The mask of neutrality is slipping away as agencies target only opposition members,” it said.
(Inputs from Debashis Konar)