Kolkata: Rujira Banerjee, wife of senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee, was allegedly stopped from boarding a UAE-bound flight on Monday, citing a “lookout” notice by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that asked her to appear before it on June 8, her lawyer said.
Sources said Rujira had reached the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata with her two children around 7 am and was stopped before immigration.
Addressing a press conference in the night, Abhishek dared the ED to arrest him or his wife, claiming that the “harassment” of his family was aimed at stopping his campaign ahead of the panchayat elections.
A senior ED officer said Rujira was handed over a summons to appear before the agency on June 8.
“We have asked Rujira Banerjee to appear before our officers at the city office on June 8. She was today (Monday) stopped from boarding the flight because of the ED’s lookout notice against her, and the matter is sub-judice,” he said.
One of Rujira’s lawyers told PTI, “She was stopped at the immigration, citing a lookout notice issued by the ED in a case. A Supreme Court order says there is no bar on her foreign visits.”
The lawyer said she had informed the ED on Saturday about her travel plans and gave a copy of her tickets to the agency.
A statement issued by her office also claimed there is a Supreme Court order, which said there were no foreign travel restrictions on the couple.
“Rujira Banerjee had visited the USA from October 5 to October 18, and there was no objection from the ED then.
“Rujira had not been stopped from travelling abroad during the ongoing investigation by the ED. She has not been called for interrogation except once in June last year, which she duly complied with,” the statement said.
Last year, the ED had questioned her in connection with the coal pilferage case. The CBI had also questioned her in 2021 in the same case.
Abhishek, the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said his wife would appear before the ED on June 8 as his family committed no wrong.
“I will not bow my head before anyone apart from the masses. The ED has summoned my wife as they (BJP) want this outreach campaign to stop. The BJP is afraid of the public support for the campaign, and that is why they are harassing my family,” he claimed.
“I dare the ED to arrest me or my wife if they have any proof of corruption. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP can’t fight us politically, so they are harassing us. If they want, they can also arrest my kids,” he said.
The TMC MP said he would move court against the “violation” of the SC order.
The chief minister called the ED’s action “inhuman”.
“The Supreme Court had given her permission to visit abroad. Her mother has been unwell for quite some time. This is inhuman. She informed the ED a few days ago. They could have asked her not to go, but now she has been served with a notice, which is not correct,” she said.
Reacting to Abhishek’s allegations, the BJP said the ED is an independent agency.
“The BJP has nothing to do with the CBI or ED. The allegations are baseless. If they have any complaints, they can always move court,” BJP leader Rahul Sinha said.