MyNation had first reported that Rujira Banerjee, wife of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, was allegedly caught with 2 kg unaccounted-for gold on March 16 at Kolkata airport. Local police had allegedly interfered and demanded her immediate release. Abhishek rubbishes charges
Kolkata: Kolkata Customs is ready to launch its own probe into the alleged incident in which Rujira Banerjee, wife of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, was caught with 2 kg unaccounted-for gold on March 16 at the Kolkata airport, department sources told MyNation.
Rujira was flying from Bangkok on Thai Airways Flight number TG 313. Her husband is also the TMC MP from Diamond Harbour.
The department sources said Customs has already complained to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport police station, asking for the filing of an FIR against Rujira, her companion Menka Gambhir, and police officials who had “interfered, obstructed and threatened” customs officials for checking Banerjee’s baggage.
The department is also ready to “appeal an appropriate court for taking cognisance of the non-cognisable offences” and exercise their “right to pray for other relief regarding an impartial investigation before an appropriate judicial forum,” says the letter of complaint in possession with MyNation.
Rujira ‘declined’ baggage scrutiny
According to the customs complaint, Rujira and Menka were selected “randomly” for checking “considering their movement, profile, the number and size of the luggage they were carrying”. The customs officials grew suspicious when the two declined to show their passports after “several requests”. They also declined to submit their luggage for X-Ray scanning.
On scanning, the officials apparently saw that three out of the total seven bags they were carrying had jewellery. The two “abused” and “threatened with dire consequences” the woman customs official who wanted them to open their bags and see the contents, the complaint said.
Abhishek trashes accusations
Meanwhile, Abhishek rubbished the charges against his wife. Addressing a press conference at his office at Amtala in South 24 Parganas district, he challenged the allegations saying he would quit politics if the charges were proved to be true. Alleging political vendetta, he said, "If that was so, why wasn't it confiscated? Was the ‘chowkidar’ sleeping?” He also rubbished media reports, calling them "baseless”. He also claimed that his wife was “not carrying even two grams of gold”.
The TMC MP claimed that the commissioner of Customs Kolkata Zone had written to a junior officer to file an FIR against his wife on instructions from the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, New Delhi. BJP was indulging in personal attacks against his family members, after having failed to fight the TMC politically, he added.
Travelling on Thai passport?
The complaint also mentioned that the two women were travelling on Thai passports “bearing numbers AA5663757 and AA5263387, respectively”.
The complaint alleged that local cops from the NSCBI Airport police station under the Bidhan Nagar Police Commissionarate came to the airport. They dropped the names of Abhishek and Mamata Banerjee, demanding that the “wife of the nephew of the Chief Minister of West Bengal” be released without examination of baggage, “otherwise they may face problems”.
The department also said that shortly after the flight had arrived, a telephone call was received by the assistant public relations office (APRO) of the airport from the airport police station asking if Rujira had been detained and if so be released immediately.
“Another phone call was received by the PRO Customs from the West Bengal Police Protocol Cell located at the Airport with the same request and the same disclosure of the status of the said two lady passengers,” the complaint said.
Pressure on Customs
The police “were physically present during the Customs examination…and all of them were insisting repeatedly to release the said passenger and her companion. They were interfering in the discharge of duty by the Customs Officers and pressurising them”, the complaint said.
The department has also complained that another team of police arrived even after the two women had left the airport and “enquired about the names of the officers on duty who were involved in intercepting the lady passengers and examining their baggage”. While this team remained there till morning, a large police contingent “was observed around the International Arrival Hall and information was gathered that they had come to arrest the officers who had examined the baggage…”
Don’t check VIPs, demand cops
The police and customs officials held a joint meeting in the morning around 11.30am. The customs department complaint alleged that at the meeting the police claimed they had received a complaint against some customs officials made by “a lady”, but “specifically enquired” about the three officials involved in the checking of Rujira’s baggage. While the police “did not divulge the name of the complainant, but made it clear that the complaint is related to the incident for which they had intervened…”
The police, the customs department added, “proposed preparation of a common SOP” for easy passage of VIPs “without any interception by Customs in the Green Channel”. A repeat of the incident, the police said, would be “viewed seriously and severe action will be taken” against customs officials.
The proposal was declined by the customs department.
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Last Updated Mar 24, 2019, 9:22 PM IST