The CBI carried out searches on 31 December at multiple locations in West Bengal, including the premises of TMC leader Vinay Mishra, considered close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, in connection with the cattle smuggling case, officials said.
The agency has issued a lookout circular against Mishra to prevent him from leaving the country. The CBI is conducting searches at two premises of Mishra in Kolkata among other locations, they said.
The agency had arrested an alleged kingpin of the cattle smuggling racket in West Bengal and two BSF officials in connection with the case.
The CBI had done a preliminary enquiry which showed that cattle smuggling was rampant along the India-Bangladesh border which is allegedly aided by some corrupt officers of the BSF and Customs receiving illegal gratification from smugglers, they said.
The agency has gone full steam on the cases related to West Bengal with director RK Shukla asking the team probing Saradha and related Ponzi scam to complete filing of all the FIRs before January 2021.
On 27 December, the agency had questioned an ASI and a constable, both posted in Malda, as regards the involvement of Mohammad Enamul Haque in the cattle smuggling case.
As per media reports, a few IPS officers could also be quizzed.
On 5 November, the agency sleuths had conducted searches at five locations in Kolkata on the residential and office premises of two Chartered Accountants.
The CBI had arrested Haque from New Delhi in November. Haque has been named as one of the key accused in the FIR filed by the CBI on 21 September.
Border Security Force (BSF) Commandant Satish Kumar, who is presently posted in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur, has been named in the FIR.
Besides the two, the CBI mentioned Aranul SK, Mohammad Golam Mustafa and other unknown persons in the FIR on the charges of misconduct by public servants after a Preliminary Enquiry disclosed the involvement of officers stationed on the India-Bangladesh border in the illegal trade.
After filing the case, the CBI conducted searches at 15 locations in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab on 23 September.
“The smugglers named in the case paid money to accused officials. Customs officials used to take a bribe of 10% of the auction price from successful bidders named in the case,” the FIR said.
“Bhuvan Bhaskar, son of the BSF officer, was employed in Haque Industries Pvt Ltd, a company promoted by Haque. Bhuvan was paid Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 as salary per month between May 2017 and December 2017, which reflects his links with the cattle smuggling racket,” the CBI stated in its FIR.
The state is going for assembly elections in 2021.