Coal mining case: CBI questions suspected mastermind Anup Majhi

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New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI) The CBI on Tuesday questioned Anup Majhi, the alleged mastermind of illegal coal mining in the Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in West Bengal's Asansol, for nearly eight hours in connection with the case, officials said.

Majhi, alias Lala, has been summoned again on April 1 to answer questions pertaining to the alleged illegal mining, they said.

The case has picked up steam with the questioning of Rujira Banerjee, wife of TMC MP and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

Assembly elections are underway in West Bengal, where the BJP wants to wrest power from the TMC.

Abhishek Banerjee has emerged as a key strategist, shaping the TMC's policies to blunt the BJP blitzkrieg, which comprises a galaxy of leaders under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP has sharpened its attack against Abhishek Banerjee, terming him 'bhaipo (nephew)' and making veiled accusations at him of being a single-window clearance without whose nod nothing happens in the state.

With political temperatures rising, alleged transactions linking Majhi with the Banerjee household have given fresh ammunition to the BJP to attack the TMC leadership.

Alleged prima donna of the case, Majhi had got protection from arrest from the Supreme Court but was instructed to co-operate in the probe.

'The petitioner shall not be arrested until April 6. This order has been passed without going into the merit of the case. We clarify that this order will not restrain the investigation,' a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud had said.

The multi-crore coal pilferage scam is related to the Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state's Kunustoria and Kajora areas.

The CBI had registered an FIR in November last year against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket, Manjhi, ECL general managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL security chief Tanmay Das, Kunustoria area security inspector Dhananjay Rai and Kajor area security in-charge Debashish Mukherjee. PTI ABS IJT