New Delhi: The judicial custody of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Anubrata Mondal was extended for 14 days by the Asansol CBI court on Friday. The next hearing in the multi-crore cattle smuggling case is set for February 17.
All focus now shifts to Mondal’s bail application hearing scheduled in the Delhi High Court on February 8. After Rouse Avenue Court there recently rejected his bail application, Mondal’s counsel moved the court with the appeal.
A close aide of the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the TMC Birbhum district president, Mondal was arrested by CBI for his alleged involvement in cow smuggling on August 11, 2022, turning the political spotlight on cattle smuggling in the state.
The Enforcement Directorate had registered a money laundering case against Satish Kumar, the then Commandant of the BSF in April last year following an FIR by the CBI in Kolkata. In the FIR it was alleged that Mondal, Kumar along with other public servants and private persons were involved in cattle smuggling.
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The ED, which is conducting a parallel probe in the cattle-smuggling scam and wants to take Mondal to its headquarters in Delhi for questioning, had opposed the bail plea. The bench at the Delhi High Court has issued a notice seeking ED’s arguments in support of its opposing Mondal’s bail plea.
Even after his arrest the TMC leader has remained the party’s Birbhum president. But the party leadership is now silently distancing itself from Anubrata Mondal, reported news agency IANS.
During the recent visit of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to Birbhum district, not a single picture of Mondal appeared in any of the programs that the CM attended, the news agency reported.
The Chief Minister also refrained from taking Mondal’s name during those programmes and said that she will herself supervise party’s activities in Birbhum.
“There are two reasons for taking this decision. The first reason is that displaying pictures of the district president might lead to some legal hassles which might be made an issue by the opposition parties. Secondly, since it is not clear when Mondal will be back again with his political activities, the leadership wants the Birbhum leadership to perform independently in absence of Mondal,” said a member of the party’s core committee to IANS on condition of anonymity.