Updated April 27th, 2024 at 13:32 IST

TOP STORY/ Did CBI, NSG Plant Weapons in Sandeshkhali?: TMC Moves EC With Big Claims

"TMC alleges CBI/NSG may have planted seized weapons in Sandeshkhali, casting doubt on authenticity of raid findings."

Reported by: Digital Desk
"TMC alleges CBI/NSG may have planted seized weapons in Sandeshkhali, casting doubt on authenticity of raid findings." | Image:File Photo

Kolkata: The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal has lodged a complaint with the Election Commissioner, alleging that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is 'throttling' the election campaigns of opposition parties, including their own. The complaint, submitted in writing, highlighted concerns about what they perceive as efforts to hinder fair competition during the ongoing election period. Responding to the recovery of arms and ammunition during the raid, the TMC accused both the CBI and the NSG of purportedly planting the weapons. 

The complaint comes hours after the CBI seized arms and ammunition, including foreign-made firearms, during search operations at multiple locations in Sandeshkhali in connection with the January attack on an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team by a mob allegedly instigated by now-suspended TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh. 


What Did The TMC Claim In Its Complaint to EC

"Today, i.e. 26.04.2024, is the day earmarked as the polling day for Phase II of the ensuing Lok Sabha Elections, 2024. More specifically in West Bengal, the electorate was scheduled to vote in three Parliamentary Constituencies, which are, Darjeeling, Raiganj, and Balurghat. While elections were going on, the CBI deliberately carried out an unscrupulous raid at an empty location in Sandeshkhali. Media reports suggest that the CBI called in additional forces including the bomb squad of the National Security Guard (NSG). It has also been reported that arms and ammunition have been recovered from a house during such raid," the letter said.


"... though 'law and order' is a domain falling completely within the ambit of the state government, the CBI did not issue an actionable notice to the state government and/or the police authorities before carrying out such a raid. Further, the state police has a fully functional bomb disposal squad which could have assisted the entire operation, if the CBI indeed felt that a bomb squad was required during such a raid. However, no such assistance was sought by the CBI. It is astonishing to notice that media personnel were already present during such the raid even before the state administration arrived at the spot. At such point in time, it was already nationwide news that weapons had been recovered during the raid. There is no way of knowing with certainty, as to whether these weapons were indeed recovered during the search and seizure procedure or whether they were surreptitiously planted by the CBI/NSG," it alleged.

Moreover, the Trinamool accused the probe agency (CBI) of "deliberately" informing the media "well in advance so that there is nationwide odium and contempt against the AITC and its candidates during the present election period".


"Media was fed with false information that the location belonged to an AITC supporter. Nothing has been proven in a court of law, however, the CBI has notoriously instrumentalised the media to spread this rumour. Hence ensuring, that a negative campaign is run against AITC not only during a polling day when the electors watch such news before casting their votes but also during the entire election period as a whole. The BJP compromised the sanctity of the ensuing elections by spreading a sense of terror amongst the electorate, thereby attempting to gain an undue advantage..." it further added."  

What Happened Yesterday?

Teams from multiple agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), bomb detection squad, National Security Guard (NSG), central paramilitary forces, and the West Bengal Police, conducted search operations in a village located in the Sundarbans' riverine delta area of North 24 Parganas district.

During the search, the CBI seized a cache of weapons, including three foreign-made revolvers, one foreign-made pistol, one Indian revolver, one Colt official issue police revolver, one country-made pistol, along with ammunition: 120 nine mm bullets, 50 .45 calibre cartridges, 120 nine mm cartridges, 50 .380 cartridges, and eight .32 cartridges.   



Meanwhile, the recovery of arms and ammunition in multiple locations in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali on Friday sparked a verbal duel between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP, with the ruling party alleging that the saffron camp was orchestrating a plot to discredit the state during the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. "We don’t know what has been recovered or not. Whatever the CBI is saying, we doubt it. The matter should be probed properly. The BJP is using central agencies to malign us. It can be a sinister ploy by the BJP to malign us during elections. It can be a well-designed campaign by the BJP," TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said.  


The BJP, on the other hand, was quick to hit back, accusing the TMC of shielding terrorists and having a tacit understanding with anti-national elements.

Senior BJP leader Amit Malviya said the arms haul is nothing but an act of terror, waging war against the nation. "The CBI, during the raid, in connection with the attack on ED officials, recovered a huge amount of arms and ammunition from Sariberia, in Sandeshkhali. Mamata Banerjee, as Home Minister of West Bengal, must explain why the state is seeing a huge stockpile of illegal weapons," he posted on X.  


"It is dangerous. NSG has been deployed but WB Govt has approached the Supreme Court to preclude the CBI from investigating the matter,” he said wondering why Mamata Banerjee is trying to ‘protect terrorists’ who have stocked firearms in such large quantities.

BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said TMC’s appeasement politics has led to ‘anti-national elements’ having a free run in the state. The search was launched in connection with the three FIRs that the CBI had registered related to the attack on the team of Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in Sandeshkhali on January 5 when it had gone to raid the premises of Sheikh in connection with an alleged ration scam.

About Sandeshkhali Row

The Sandeshkhali controversy erupted when supporters of Shahjahan attacked a team from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) en route to conduct searches linked to a different case. 

During the assault, ED officials sustained injuries, prompting the Trinamool leader to flee. He successfully evaded law enforcement for almost two months before being apprehended in March.


Published April 27th, 2024 at 12:59 IST