KOLKATA: Officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation questioned Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife at the couple’s home on Tuesday, reaching the property exactly three minutes after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee left after a brief visit with the family.
The questioning, in connection with an alleged coal-mining scam in the state, went on for nearly one-and-a-half hours. People close to the Banerjee family insisted Rujira “cooperated with the CBI officers” and the session “went off very well”. There was no official word from the CBI about Tuesday’s session except that the questioning was video-recorded and that officers would be going through Rujira’s responses.
Tuesday’s questions could be divided into two parts, CBI insiders said, with the first half-an-hour devoted to “some basic queries about Rujira’s family” and the next hour or so focusing on specific questions related to “identity documents, bank account details, her knowledge about certain individuals and certain transactions”.
The CBI team was led by superintendent of police Biswajit Das and comprised investigating officer Umesh Kumar, who led the questioning of Rujira’s sister, Menka Gambhir, on Monday. Rujira, in her first response to the CBI notice, had said that she was “unaware” of the reasons for which she was being questioned.
A source close to the Banerjee family told TOI that Rujira was a Thai citizen by virtue of being born in Thailand. “She still holds a Thai passport and an Overseas Citizenship of India card.” Family insiders also told TOI that there was “a discrepancy in her PAN and OCI applications”. “But that error has long been rectified and the government of India has also issued her a fresh PAN card on the basis of which Rujira has been filing her returns,” the source added.
The CBI team’s questioning was preceded by a visit by the Bengal CM. Mamata reached her nephew’s home at 11.24am and left at 11.33am. Abhishek’s daughter saw the CM off and went back into her house after appearing dazed at the sight of hundreds of camera flash-bulbs and mediapeople.
The CM did not speak to reporters but a family insider said she went to her nephew’s home “not as a CM but as a family elder”. “They are a very close-knit family,” he added. Senior officers also monitored the session from the agency’s office. The team drove out of the Banerjees’ home around 1.10pm in two cars with New Delhi licence plates and headed to the agency’s office, where they held several meetings. CBI officials later said they might contact “some Thai banks for some details”.