Wanted By CBI, Abhishek Banerjee’s Ex-Aide And Trinamool Youth Congress Leader Fled To Polynesia, Renounced Indian Citizenship
A lawyer said that Vinay Mishra fled because he knew of the CBI and ED probes, and of the noose tightening around his neck.
Former Trinamool Youth Congress general secretary Vinay Mishra who is wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in illegal coal mining and cattle smuggling cases that the agency is probing, had renounced his Indian citizenship soon after fleeing the country in December last year.
Mishra, who is said to have been a close aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and anointed successor Abhishek Banerjee, filed an affidavit before the Calcutta High Court on Monday through his lawyer, stating that he had left the country before the CBI started its probe.
According to records shared by immigration officials, Mishra flew out of Kolkata to Dubai on 16 December 2020 and submitted an application to renounce his Indian citizenship with the Indian consulate general’s office in the UAE on 19 December 2020.
His application was accepted by the Indian government on 22 December. Mishra’s lawyer submitted documents to the Calcutta High Court to back this claim.
Denying that he had fled the country, Mishra said that at the time of his leaving the country, there was no legal restraint on him doing so.
He claimed that he left India because he was receiving threats from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) due to his association with the Trinamool and also because he feared being targeted by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Legal experts say Mishra, by admitting in his affidavit that he feared being targeted by the CBI and ED that were probing the illegal coal theft and cattle smuggling cases, has himself given the lie to his claim that he had no knowledge of the central agencies probing the scams.
“His admission proves that he knew of the CBI and ED probes and of the noose tightening around his neck. That’s why he fled,” said a senior criminal lawyer.
Though Mishra has not disclosed where he stays now, CBI officers believe he has taken up citizenship of Vanuatu in Polynesia.
Mishra has asked for the Calcutta High Court’s permission to join the investigations being conducted by the CBI virtually. He has cited the pandemic for his inability to travel now.
Mishra has promised to appear before the CBI physically once the pandemic situation eases and restrictions on international travel are lifted. Till then, he has requested the court to grant him relief from arrest and cancellation of the lookout circular and red corner notices in his name.
The ED had even named Abhishek Banerjee as a beneficiary of the scams.
In early April this year, the BJP released an audio tape to claim that Abhishek Banerjee had received Rs 900 crore from the two scams. The tape was of a purported conversation between Mishra and Kolkata businessman Ganesh Bagaria, another accused in the scams.
The CBI conducted raids at multiple places, including the residence and offices of Vinay Mishra, on 31 December. But he had already left the country by then.
On 16 March this year, the ED arrested Vinay Mishra’s brother Vikas, and attached his properties. The ED claims that the two brothers received “proceeds of crime worth Rs 730 crore on behalf of some influential persons and for themselves”.
The ‘influential persons’ are believed to be Abhishek Banerjee and some other top Trinamool leaders.
The CBI had questioned Abhishek’s wife Rujira and his sister-in-law in connection with the scams.
The CBI had registered an FIR in November last year against Anup Manjhi alias Lala, the alleged kingpin of the coal pilferage and illegal coal mining racket, Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) general managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL security chief Tanmay Das, and ECL security officers Dhananjay Rai and Debashish Mukherjee.
Manjhi, claims the ED, is involved in illegal mining and theft of coal from the leasehold mines of the ECL.
The ED claimed that it had conducted as many as 48 raids in Delhi and Kolkata over the last two months in connection with the case that led to the seizure of “incriminating evidence”.
The ED claims that it has gathered evidence that “more than Rs 1,300 crore of proceeds of crime have been generated from the illegal coal business of Anup Manjhi and a major chunk of this, around Rs 730 crore, was received by Vinay Mishra and Vikas Mishra on behalf of some influential persons and also for themselves”.
The Mishra brothers are also being probed by the two agencies in connection with a case of cross-border cattle smuggling along the international border between India and Bangladesh.
Vinay Mishra’s twitter account, which he last operated on 3 December 2020, says he was the general secretary of the Trinamool Youth Congress. Abhishek Banerjee was the president of the outfit at that time.
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