A four-member team of the Crime Investigation Department of West Bengal Police — which landed in Guwahati yesterday — has started its probe in connection with arrest of three Jharkhand Congress MLAs with Rs 48 lakh in cash in Bengal’s Howrah last week. Local police denied reports that the Bengal team was “detained”.
The arrests have ignited politics across three states and multiple parties. The Congress has alleged that the BJP — specifically, Assam Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma — is behind the money “paid to the MLAs to topple the Jharkhand government”. It has suspended the MLAs from the party.
The BJP has denied these allegations, while the MLAs have said the money was for sari shopping. Arrested on July 30 along with two associates, the three leaders are in custody of the police in Bengal, a state ruled by the Trinamool Congress that has echoed the “horse-trading” allegations against the BJP.
Further details on the probe weren’t available, but a top Guwahati police official said they are fully cooperating with the them. A section of the media had reported that local police detained the team after it did not share a copy of the FIR.
The MLAs — Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kacchap and Naman Bixal Kongari — were held at Howrah’s Panchla, with the cash in their vehicle. Initially the police said the “huge” cash would have to be counted to know the exact amount; it turned out to be Rs 48 lakh. Along with the driver and another associate, they are in custody till August 10.
They have told the police that the cash was meant for buying saris from the wholesale market at Burrabazar in central Kolkata, to distribute in their constituencies for the forthcoming World Tribal Day (August 9).