Kolkata: Summoned by the CBI for questioning in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam, Trinamool Congress MLA Iqbal Ahmed on Saturday sought 7 days extension of time to appear before the agency. He send a letter with his lawyer to the Nizam palace. He mentioned in letter that due to physical illness he can’t be appear before CBI and sought 7 days.
Earlier, The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent the first notice in the cash-for-favours scam highlighted by the Narada sting operation to Trinamool Congress MLA Iqbal Ahmed, asking him to report to reach the agency’s office in Kolkata on June 10 to join the probe.
Ahmed, who is one of the 12 Trinamool leaders named in the FIR in the cash-for-favours scam, is the younger brother of the party’s Lok Sabha MP, Sultan Ahmed, a co-accused in the same case. Iqbal Ahmed is a two-time MLA from Khanakul constituency of Hooghly district
CBI sources said the reason to start interrogating Iqbal Ahmed is that available evidence suggests that he played a key role in introducing Mathew Samuel, chief of Naradanews.com who carried out the sting operation, to these influential politicians. Ahmed’s name is fourth in the list of 13 individuals named in the FIR filed by CBI on April 17.
The Narada sting operation had landed Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in her biggest trouble so far. The 12 Trinamool leaders seen in the video telecast nationwide are some of the most prominent and the powerful in the party – Saugata Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Banerjee (all Lok Sabha MPs), Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad (Bobby) Hakim, Madan Mitra (ministers), Iqbal Ahmed (MLA), Sovan Chatterjee (MLA and Kolkata mayor). Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy has also been named in the FIR though he was not seen accepting cash.
S M H Mirza, an IPS officer who claimed to be taking the money on behalf of Roy is the last on the list of accused. The opposition is hoping that the alleged offenders would now be prosecuted.
“The progress so far has been extremely slow. But we hope that CBI now accelerates the pace of investigations and prosecutes the offenders,” CPI(M) politburo member and Lok Sabha MP Md Salim.
“Now the real investigation will begin and will surely gather pace. I am sure the culprits will be punished and sent to jail,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.
Sections 7 (Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration) and 13 (criminal misconduct by a public servant) of Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) and criminal conspiracy charges under section 128 of the IPC were slapped against the accused.
The Narada operation was a series of sting videos shot by Naradanews.com over a period of two years. It was aired in mid-March 2016, about a fortnight before the Bengal Assembly polls that year, leading Mamata Banerjee to allege that the operation was a political conspiracy.
CBI sources said there seems to be some audio clues besides the video evidence that indicate Ahmed’s role in the matter. If Ahmed speaks, the CBI may be able to gather a lot of information to expedite the probe. CBI officers are not ruling out the possibility that new names may surface after Ahmed’s interrogation.