The road accident involving Saigal Hussain, one of the key witnesses in the Rs 1,000 crore cattle smuggling case, has created a political outcry in West Bengal after the opposition BJP alleged foul play.
Hussain, a West Bengal Police constable and a senior security staff member of Trinamool Congress heavyweight Anubrata Mandal, met the accident when the cars he and his family members were traveling collided with a truck near Illambazar around 12:30 p.m. to midnight. .
Hussain and his family members were in one car while his five-year-old daughter and a friend named Madhab Kaibart were in the second vehicle.
The CBI and ED both interviewed Hussain six months ago and sources from the central investigative agency confirmed that they obtained crucial information during the interrogation. A CBI officer said questioning Hussain was key to bringing Mandal to the interrogation table.
Two months ago, the CBI summoned Mandal for questioning, but he refused to appear citing “personal reasons”. Two weeks ago, after the CBI issued an ultimatum and the Calcutta High Court refused to grant redress, Mandal was admitted to the state-run SSKM Hospital. He was even transferred to intensive care.
Mandal was released after 17 days even as the CBI requested a detailed health report from him in hospital.
Two days ago, Mandal wrote a letter to the polling agency, in which he said, “I am a patient with scrotal sinus infection. Let me tell you, the agony is so exuberant that I don’t wish the same on my worst antagonist.
He asked the CBI to interview him at his residence in Kolkata.
Mandal could not be contacted as his phone was switched off.
Investigative agencies questioned Hussain after finding that he had spoken to Enamul Huq, the main defendant in the cattle smuggling case, on several occasions. The CBI received over 200 call records between Enamul and Hussain. The ED is also looking to trace the money laundering aspect of the case as it was discovered that the money received in the scam was transferred out of India through the Hawala racket .
The BJP called Hussain’s accident a plot to erase evidence.
“It is not an accident at all, but an attempt to finish off the main witness in the case. Anubrata acted through Saigal and everyone knew it,” said Sukanta Majumder, the president of BJP State, during a press briefing.
West Bengal Police, however, have ruled out any foul play. “The cars were traveling at high speed and hit a truck that was parked on the side of the road. The truck did not collide deliberately. The investigation is ongoing,” said Birbhum Police Superintendent Nagrendra Tripathy.
Apart from the cattle smuggling case, Mandal is also wanted by the CBI for questioning in the Rampurhat carnage where 13 people were killed in a non-accidental fire. He has yet to appear for that as well.