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HC stays bail given to WB ministers in Narada case; TMC protests across state
Earlier, party leader Abhishek Banerjee advised party supporters to abide by the law and not to break lockdown norms.
The Calcutta High Court on Monday night stayed a lower court's decision to grant bail to two TMC ministers and an MLA along with a former party leader, arrested and chargesheeted by the CBI in Narada sting tape case. The central agency moved a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee soon after a special CBI court granted bail to state ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra, and former TMC leader and erstwhile Mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee.
Ministers Mukherjee and Hakim, MLA Mitra and former leader Chatterjee were taken from Nizam Palace, a building that houses the CBI office, to the prison amid tight security after medical tests.
The division bench said it deemed it appropriate to stay the special court's order and direct that the "accused person shall be treated to be in judicial custody till further orders". The court directed that the matter will be heard again on May 19.
The Nizam Palace became the latest political battleground in the state as chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrived along with the kin of these politicians and demanded that she also be arrested while angry protestors gathered at the site, defying the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, and hurled stones and bricks at security personnel.
Narada sting case: West Bengal cabinet ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee arrested along with TMC MLA Madan Mitra, ex-minister Sovan Chatterjee
Irate Trinamool Congress activists held frenzied demonstrations across the state. The TMC accused the BJP-run Centre of using the CBI for political vendetta due to the saffron party's recent loss in the assembly election. Hakim's daughter Priyadarshini appealed to them not to show any discontent and create situations that will only strengthen the hands of the BJP. "Please don't fall into the trap of BJP," she said.
Earlier, party leader Abhishek Banerjee advised party supporters to abide by the law and not to break lockdown norms. West Bengal has gone into a 15-day lockdown from Sunday to tackle a rising surge in coronavirus cases. A group of TMC workers in Chetla area, where Hakim resides, said they felt relieved after the court gave its ruling, and the verdict has further vindicated their faith in the judiciary.
Similar scenes were witnessed close to Raj Bhavan, where the agitators, during the day, had shouted slogans against Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, condemning him for sanctioning the prosecution of the four leaders in the Narada sting tapes case. "Madan da is working round the clock to provide COVID-19 care in Kamarhati. The BJP, which couldn't digest its resounding defeat in the just-concluded assembly elections, has influenced the CBI," another supporter of the ruling party, claimed. Hundreds of TMC activists took out protest rallies in the city and elsewhere earlier in the day, thumbing their noses at lockdown regulations, after the CBI made the arrests.