The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on May 17 arrested Trinamool Congress leaders Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee in Kolkata in connection with the Narada sting case.
The operations, conducted in 2014, showed the arrested political leaders were purportedly caught taking money on a camera, CBI officials said. The action comes as the central probe agency was set to file a chargesheet in the sting tapes case.
It approached West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar seeking sanction to prosecute Hakim, Mukherjee, Mitra and Chatterjee, who were all ministers at in 2014. Dhankar sanctioned the prosecution of all the four leaders, following the assembly election results, where the TMC beat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hands down.
Mukherjee, Hakim and Mitra were re-elected in the recently concluded state Assembly polls. Mukherjee was appointed as state panchayat, while Hakim was is the new transport minister in the present government. Chatterjee had joined the BJP in 2019, but quit the party as he was denied a ticket to contest the Assembly polls.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on hearing the news of the arrest, reached the CBI office and insisted that she also be arrested. She left the CBI office six hours after a sit-in protest.
What is the Narada Sting Operation?
The Narada sting operation was allegedly conducted in 2014 by Mathew Samuel of Narada News portal. Several TMC ministers, MPs and MLAs were caught on camera allegedly receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in exchange of certain favours.
The tapes were released ahead of the 2016 state Assembly polls, after which the first investigation was initiated by the state police. Mamata Banerjee first ordered an investigation by Kolkata Police on June 17, 2016. Subsequently, PILs were filed by both BJP and Congress in the Calcutta High Court for an impartial inquiry into the case.
The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March 2017. Following the High Court order, the CBI on April 17, 2017 filed an FIR against 12 TMC leaders for "criminal conspiracy".
Senior police officer MH Ahmed Mirza was the first to be arrested in the case in September 2019 by the CBI.
(Edited by: By Shoma)