Senior Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee dared Central probe agency Enforcement Directorate (ED) to arrest him or his wife Rujira Banerjee on Monday. I dare ED to arrest me or my wife, he said.
His comment comes hours after Rujira was allegedly stopped from boarding a UAE-bound flight citing a 'lookout' notice by the ED that asked her to appear before them on June 8.
Sources said Rujira had reached Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata with her two children around 7am before being stopped before immigration. A senior ED officer said Rujira was handed over a summons to appear before the agency on June 8.
"We have asked Rujira Banerjee to appear before our officers at the city office on June 8. She was today (Monday) stopped from boarding the flight because of the ED's lookout notice against her and the matter is sub-judice," he said.
One of Rujira's lawyers told PTI, “She was stopped at the immigration, citing a lookout notice issued by the ED in a case. A Supreme Court order says there is no bar on her foreign visits."
The lawyer said she had informed the ED on Saturday about her travel plans and gave a copy of her tickets to the agency.
A press statement issued by her office also claimed there is a Supreme Court order which says there are no foreign travel restrictions on the couple.
"Rujira Banerjee had visited USA from October 5 to October 18 and there was no objection from the ED then.
“Rujira had not been stopped from travelling abroad during the ongoing investigation by the ED. She has not been called for interrogation except once in June last year, which she duly complied with,” the statement said.
Last year, the ED had questioned her in connection with a coal pilferage scam. The CBI had also questioned her in 2021 in the same case.
Reacting to the issue, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said, "The Supreme Court had given her permission to visit abroad. Her mother has been unwell for quite some time. This is inhuman. She informed the ED a few days ago. They could have asked her not to go, but now she has been served a notice which is not correct."
Banerjee, without naming the BJP, said at a time when so many lives had been lost because of the train accident in Balasore, the saffron party was trying to cover up the matter.
"Instead of helping people, the BJP is playing politics. They are shameless. They are trying to suppress the deaths. I have always tried to help people," she said.
"Those who cannot fight politically are abusing power and harassing family members of the ruling party. They are cowards. The TMC tolerates this harassment as it has faith in the masses. The people of Bengal will give them a befitting reply in the elections," TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh tweeted.
The state BJP leadership, however, denied the allegations as baseless and said ED is an independent agency devoid of any political influence.
"The BJP has nothing to do with the CBI or ED investigation. The allegations are baseless. If they have any complaints, they can always move court," BJP leader Rahul Sinha said.
(With PTI inputs)