Trinamool Congress lodges complaint with West Bengal CEO against CBI’s Sandeshkhali raid

Purported recovery possibly a ploy by the BJP in conspiracy with the CBI, TMC alleges

CBI Sandeshkhali raid (File) Arms and ammunition recovered from associate of suspended TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh during CBI search operation in Sandeshkhali | PTI

Trinamool Congress has lodged a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of West Bengal stating that the CBI had "deliberately carried out an unscrupulous" raid at an "empty location" in Sandeshkhali during the second phase of polling in the state.

The TMC said that while elections were going on at Darjeeling, Raiganj and Balurghat Lok Sabha constituencies on Friday, the central agency carried out an "unscrupulous" raid at an empty location at Sandeshkhali.

The CBI on Friday seized arms and ammunition, including a police service revolver and foreign-made firearms, during searches at two premises of an associate of now-suspended TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali. The searches were conducted in connection with the January attack on an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team by a mob that was allegedly instigated by Sheikh, who was arrested by the West Bengal Police on February 29 in the case.

The Trinamool Congress in a letter to the CEO on Friday said that media reports suggested that CBI had called in additional forces including the bomb squad of NSG. "It has also been reported in the media that arms and ammunition have been recovered from a house during the such raid by the central agency", it said.

The party said while 'law and order' fell completely within the domain of the state government, the CBI did not issue any notice to it or the police authorities before carrying out such a raid. The TMC stated that the West Bengal police has a fully functional bomb disposal squad at its command, it could have assisted in the operation if the CBI indeed felt its requirement during the raid.

"However, no such assistance was sought. But, surprisingly, the raids had become nationwide news stating that weapons had been recovered during the raids", TMC said. The party also doubted "there is no way of knowing with certainty as to whether these weapons were indeed recovered during the search or whether they were surreptitiously planted by the CBI or NSG".

The TMC alleged the entire exercise smacks of an effort by the CBI to create a nationwide hatred against the TMC and its candidates, during the election period, while feeding with the wrong information that the location belonged to a supporter of the party. The letter added that the incident had again demonstrated the fact that the "BJP has weaponised" the central investigation agencies including the CBI to carry out a smear campaign against the party.

"It further iterated that in the absence of any representative of the state government, the purported recovery of arms and ammunition is possibly a ploy by the BJP in conspiracy with the CBI and the NSG to plant weapons in the site", the party said in the letter.

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