Updated: Thu, 11 Aug 2022 05:27 PM IST
Adding to the woes of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested TMC leader Anubrata Mondal from his residence in connection with the cattle smuggling case. The CBI said that Mondal has been arrested as he was not cooperating in the probe related to the matter. His bodyguard Saigal Hossain has also been arrested by the central agency.
Mondal, a close aide of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was arrested after an hour-long interrogation by the CBI team at his residence in Birbhum district. The CBI said that it has found direct involvement of Mondal in the scam. Mondal had twice skipped his scheduled appearance before the central probe agency in the last few days, citing ill-health.
"We have arrested him for non-cooperation in the investigation into the cattle smuggling scam. We have found Mondal's direct involvement in the scam. We will question him today and take necessary action as per law," a CBI official said. The CBI would also question the doctor of a Bolpur hospital who had prescribed Mondal bed rest for 14 days.
Who Is Anubrata Mondal?
Anubrata Mondal is considered to be one of the close aides of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and is currently the TMC's Birbhum district president. He is one of the most influential leaders in the district and has also helped TMC to consolidate its position in the district. His hold over the district is evident in the fact that TMC holds 10 out of 11 assembly seats in Birbhum.
Born in 1960 to a family of farmers in Birbhum district, the land which also houses Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's Visva Bharati University, Mondal, popularly known as ‘Keshto', the eldest of five siblings, started his career as a fish trader in Suri.
His leadership and organisational abilities were first noticed by a local youth Congress leader of Birbhum in the early nineties, who took him to Mamata Banerjee, then a rising star of Bengal politics and the president of the state Youth Congress.
He was among the handful of Congress leaders who walked out of the grand old party under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee in 1998 to form the Trinamool Congress. Shortly after, he was appointed TMC's Birbhum district president in 2000 and played a key role in expanding the party's base in the erstwhile-Left citadel.
The 62-year-old leader is a staunch Mamata loyalist and was among the TMC leaders who popularised the famous 'Khela Hobe' battle cry of TMC coined during the 2021 West Bengal Assembly Elections. Interestingly, Anubrata has never contested any election despite his three-decade-long career in politics. However, he is one of the key persons involved in brainstorming TMC’s expansion strategy.
Keshto Da is also no stranger to controversies as he is often seen making polarizing comments and even seen threatening the police and inciting TMC workers to hurl bombs at them. Mondal, reportedly, also has ties with sand mafias of the district and is also involved in illegal activities like stone quarrying and cattle smuggling.
He was also summoned by the CBI in the Bengal post-poll violence case but was granted interim protection from arrest by the Calcutta High Court. His name had also cropped up during the investigation into the gruesome Bogtui killings in March this year when eight people were burnt alive following rivalry between two groups in the Birbhum district