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SC observes ‘something very serious happening in West Bengal’, issues notice to Mamata govt over harassment of customs officials

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that a large contingent of West Bengal Police arrived at the Kolkata airport after customs officials stopped Rujira Naroola and Menaka Gambhir, both Thai passport holders. 

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government on a plea filed by the customs department alleging interference and intimidation by the local police during a search operation against the wife and sister TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata airport. The legal editor of CNN News 18 tweeted that the SC observed ‘something very serious seems to be happening in the state’.

According to sources, Mamata Banerjee government appears to be in trouble after it has allegedly blocked and harassed the customs officials when they sought to scan baggage of wife of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is the nephew of the CM Mamata Banerjee. The Supreme Court reportedly remarked in exasperation, “what is going on in West Bengal?”.

The Centre had moved a plea in the Supreme Court last Friday following March 16th incident when Kolkata Police allegedly did not allow customs officials to do their duty. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that the central agencies were in a perpetual state of fear and were being hounded for performing their duties. “There is constitutional anarchy in West Bengal if I may say it succinctly,” Mehta contended.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that a large contingent of West Bengal Police arrived at the Kolkata airport after customs officials stopped Rujira Naroola and Menaka Gambhir, both Thai passport holders.

Rujira Naroola Banerjee, the wife of the second-in-command of TMC was reportedly caught with 2 kgs of gold. As per the report, the lady flew in on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok at around 1.10 am and were passing through normal screening. They had declined to show their passports and were carrying seven pieces of checked-in baggage, the complaint said.

Despite multiple requests, they refused to put the baggage through the X-Ray scanning machine and eventually did so “after a lot of reluctance”, it added.

The complaint said that on scanning, it was noticed that three of these pieces of baggage contained jewellery and the women were requested to open it, but they “started abusing the officers and threatened them with dire consequences”.

When customs officials questioned her about the gold, which was approximately valued at Rs 68 lakh, she reportedly called up her husband Abhishek Banerjee, who is Lok Sabha MP from Diamond Harbour. Soon, several senior Kolkata Police officers reached the airport and tried to allegedly whisk her away. The Customs officials had confirmed that they were under pressure to release the duo.

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