Banerjee, who is a Trinamul candidate from Diamond Harbour, wondered why the gold was not seized by the Customs.
Kolkata: Crying foulplay by the BJP against him ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamul MP Abhishek Banerjee on Sunday dismissed the allegation of recovery of 2 kg gold from his wife Rujira Naroola baggage and her detention at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport when she recently landed here from Bangkok.
He claimed that his wife was heckled by the Customs because he filed a case against BJP president Amit Shah earlier. Mr Banerjee, who is a Trinamul candidate from Diamond Harbour, wondered why the gold was not seized by the Customs.
Referring to reports in a section of the media that his wife was found to be carrying two kg gold by customs authorities at the city airport, he said, “Was the chowkidar of the country sleeping? Or was he off-duty?” He also wondered why the Customs lodged an FIR a week after the incident on March 16. He informed that a counter FIR has also been lodged against the Customs for demanding bribe from his wife before letting her go.
Mr Banerjee’s attack on the BJP-led NDA government comes soon after the BJP accused him of sending the police to escorting his wife out of the Customs’ detention. The CPI(M) and Congress also trained guns on him.
Mr Banerjee claimed, “For the past few days the BJP and CPI(M) leaders went all out to make a fake news viral through various social networking sites and portals that my wife was caught with two kg of gold at the airport. Their aim was to encash an opportunity before the polls. Somewhere it was claimed that she was arrested. Elsewhere, she was reported to have been detained. But it is purely a lie.”
He wondered how the copy of the FIR, titled “secret”, reached media houses. “Where does the government stand? In the cover letter of the FIR, Cu-stoms’ commissioner (Kol-kata Zone) Manish Chan-da wrote to one S.K. Bisw-as in a way which suggests that the FIR was drafted from New Delhi. The name of CBIC, ministry of finance, was mentioned,” Mr Banerjee alleged.
Claiming that wild allegations were made about his wife landing at the NSC Bose International Airport with gold, foreign currency and other materials from Thailand, Banerjee said, “I am open to any and every kind of inquiry”.
He also stated that his wife is a Thai citizen by birth and possessed a passport of Thailand.
He reasoned, “There is no doubt that the Customs lodged the FIR under pressure from New Delhi. I want an explanation from the Customs why they narrated that Rujira and Menka Gambhir were randomly selected based on their profile. You could have used the word suspicion or body language or appearance. Is it a crime to be associated with me? Does it signify she was harrassed and heckled because she is my wife?”
The Trinamul MP said, “I challenge the Customs to come out with CCTV footages if they have the guts. I am open to any inquiry. The airport jurisdiction is controlled by the CISF. I will leave politics if anyone can show me a footage of my wife getting special privilege. The BJP has the culture of making personal attacks. We have already served legal notices to all those who circulated fake news.”
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta however alleged, “The Customs officers were threatened. They were told they could not do anything. Standard procedures were not followed. Why did the Kolkata and Bidhannagar police personnel obstruct the Customs officer from discharing their duty? It happened recently in case of IPS officer Rajeev Kumar. We demand the CCTV footage be made public. It should not be destroyed.”
State Congress chief Somen Mitra asked why Mr Banerjee’s wife was carrying a Thailand passport instead of a diplomatic one which any MP’s wife is entitled to. CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty demanded a probe under court’s supervision.