The Election Commission of India (EC) on Tuesday issued orders to keep Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal under strict surveillance of the executive magistrate and CAPF from 5pm on Tuesday till Friday 7am to ensure free and fair polling. The decision was taken in the wake of the chief electoral officer receiving “several complaints against Mondal", an official said.
“In view of the feedback received from various sources and as per the report of the DEO and SP, Birbhum, the commission has directed that Mondal be under strict surveillance of the executive magistrate and CAPF for ensuring free and fair elections," the official said. During this period, videography would be conducted “with date and stamping".
This came hours after the Birbhum district president of the TMC informed the anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that he would not be able to appear before it till election comes to an end. Birbhum is scheduled to go for polls in the eighth and final phase of the assembly elections on Thursday. Mondal was placed under similar surveillance during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2016 assembly polls.
The CBI on Monday summoned him to appear before it on Tuesday for questioning in connection with its probe into cross-border cattle smuggling.
Sources said the Birbhum district president of the TMC was asked to appear before officials of the central agency at its Nizam Palace office in Kolkata.
However, TMC supremo and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she has asked Mandal to intimate officials concerned that he would be able to appear before them only after the assembly elections, which is set to conclude on April 29.
“I asked him to inform them that he would be able to visit their office only after the polling process is over. He is president of the TMC’s district unit, and cannot be summoned all of a sudden in the middle of the elections. In the past, too, he was put under surveillance by the EC during polls. Such harassment shouldn’t be allowed," said the ruling camp supremo during a meeting of party workers and candidates in Kolkata.
The CBI, which has been probing cases of illegal cattle trade for quite some time, has said that animals sourced from different places are regularly smuggled out via the India-Bangladesh border.
The CBI, in its first chargesheet, has named at least seven accused, including BSF commandant Satish Kumar and businessman Enamul Haq. Both Haq and Kumar have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the case.
The agency has also raided properties of TMC leader Vinay Mishra, who is considered to be a close aide of the chief minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.