TMC, cops face flak over missing police officer
New Delhi: The Mumbai Police has blown the lid on a peculiar cop drama involving a former IPS officer who once freed the Maoist-prone Midnapore district from red terror but is now in the hiding following threats from the Trinamool Congress.
Bharati Ghosh, once hailed as the daughter of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and now labelled as a carpetbagger by the TMC, has got a shot in her arm following revelations by Mumbai Police that a consignment of gold, alleged to have been bought by Ghosh, could not have been bought from Mumbai because the shop named in the receipt does not deal in retail.
BTVI has learnt that the Mumbai Police has informed its counterparts in Bengal that it has not found the original receipt book or a sellers copy. Worse, there was no PAN number of the receipt.
Now, there are genuine fears that the receipt, produced in the court by cops in Bengal to prove Ghosh was a corrupt officer, could - actually - be fake and cause tremendous embarrassment to the state’s ruling TMC government.
“I am sad to see cops are lying to prove me wrong. But I also know they do not have a choice. They are being told to do exactly this by the state government,” Ghosh told BTVI in a telephonic conversation. The former police officer did not reveal where she was currently staying.
“The cops in Bengal are desperately trying to drum up a case against me. It will now work.” She said her husband, MAV Raju, a general manager at the Calcutta Stock Exchange, was locked up by the officers and harassed during interrogation by the cops in Kolkata.
Cops in Bengal had blamed Ghosh for amassing illegal wealth, among them flats and gold. The cops have travelled to as many as six states across India to trace and arrest Ghosh but to no avail.
Ghosh, who once called Banerjee “mother” and was considered extremely close to the CM, was privy to many secrets, including the controversial death of Naxalite leader Mallojula Koteswar Rao, better known as Kishenji, on 24 November 2011.
The state government had claimed Kishenji was killed in an encounter in Junglemahal though there were conflicting reports which said the Naxalite leader was shot dead after he had surrendered.
If Ghosh offers proof of such a killing, it could cause tremendous embarrassment to the state government. Staged encounters are not uncommon in Bengal; the state witnessed many such killings by cops during the tumultuous Naxalite movement in the 1970s.
There are genuine fears within the top brass of the TMC about Ghosh and her future motives. Ghosh worked for a little over six years in Midnapore, a politically sensitive region.
Ghosh resigned after she was removed as the SP of West Midnapore and appointed as the commandant of Third Battalion of State Armed Police at Barrackpore—a position many consider an “ornamental post”. The resignation followed a showdown between her and a TMC leader.
State BJP leaders have given her an open offer to join their party. The move has angered CM Banerjee and her close associates.
“She once hounded the Maoists and other criminals, now she is being hounded,” says her lawyer, Pinaki Bhattacharya. “This seems very, very vindictive.”
What is intriguing is that the first complaint of extortion against Ghosh came from one Chandan Majhi, an eatery owner who sells fried noodles and egg rolls. Majhi said he sold 375 grams of gold jewellery to a police officer who worked with Ghosh.
The cops were embarrassed when it was revealed that Majhi was a proclaimed offender and he was on bail after a two year jail period when he had filed the complaint against Ghosh.
The second complaint against Ghosh was lodged by one Younis Ali Mondal, a fruit shop owner, who said he had paid Ghosh Rs 45 lakh for helping in smuggling cattle and drugs across the Bengal-Bangladesh border in north 24 Parganas.
Mondal had run into trouble when Ghosh checkmated his plans to transport cows from Midnapore to Bashirhat in Bengal border. Raids in Kolkata on two residential flats of Ghosh have opened up a Pandora’s Box, with political parties blaming TMC for maligning the officer, even attempting to arrest her by falsely implicating her.
Senior CPM leader Surya Kant Mishra took to Twitter to say: “If the supremo doubts your loyalty wait for any nonsense but so long your loyalty isn›t questioned you're free to commit any nonsense. It is time for loyalists to revolt.”
Mishra said it was clear Banerjee was trying to silence Ghosh. “The CM and her men are trying to implicate the officer because there are chances she could join the BJP.”
Ghosh has, largely, remained silent, except for a brief message to her social media group. She said it was appalling that her house was raided by the CID officers without any notice, her husband locked up and the interiors damaged. “I am totally at dark, I am not in the state. My husband works for an autonomous organisation, I have served at the United Nations, the international community and the people of Bengal with dignity. I was recommended for the Shourya award and the President’s Police Medal by my immediate superiors before I resigned,” Ghosh said.
In her WhatsApp message, a copy of which is with this correspondent, Ghosh asked some pointed questions: “I am happy that I am being maligned but may I ask why should you (the CID officers) land up at my home with a blank FIR? Are you in such a hurry that you have lost your senses? You have searched my home for four days and found nothing and all of a sudden you find loads of cash stashed in one of the flats? Are you aware that the flat where you have supposedly found the cash was not mine?”
TMC leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay said the law would take its own course in the Bharati Ghosh case. “There are a number of cases against her; the matter is in the court.”
Seasoned Kolkata-based lawyer and author Arunabha Ghosh said West Bengal Police head Surajit Kar Purakayastha must not violate laws to please the state government (read CM Banerjee). “The cops claimed cash was recovered from Ghosh’s flat and then said it was not her flat. Now, would you leave crores of cash in a flat and handover the keys to a caretaker? Does the CID realise the implications of the case if Ghosh says cash came from the CM?”
All eyes on the courts in Kolkata.