Trafficking accused BJP leader sent to CID custody, political spat erupts (Roundup)
Siliguri/Kolkata, March 1 (IANS) BJP leader Juhi Chowdhury, arrested for her alleged link to a child trafficking racket in West Bengal, was on Wednesday sent to 12 days CID custody, a senior official said. An embarrassed BJP removed her as state secretary of its women’s wing.
Amid tight security, Chowdhury was produced at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Siliguri, after her Tuesday night arrest from Batasia area close to the India-Nepal border in Darjeeling.
While the prosecution sought her CID remand, the defence counsel moved for bail.
After hearing both sides, the judge rejected the bail application and sent her to CID custody.
“Chowdhury has been remanded to 12 days in CID custody,” said Additional Director General, CID Rajesh Kumar, claiming she was directly involved in new born child trafficking.
However, Chowdhury, the fourth person arrested in the case which has created a storm in Bengal with its political connotations, claimed she was “innocent”.
“I am innocent. They can’t prove me guilty,” she told media persons in the court premises.
Chowdhury, who was on the run for the last few days after her name was linked to the case involving trafficking of at least 17 children, was brought to Matigara police station for interrogation.
CID sources said the agency has recovered from fellow accused Manas Bhowmik – arrested last month – a diary with detailed entries about Chowdhury’s connection with traffickers.
According to the diary, Chowdhury accompanied prime accused and Jalpaiguri-based child adoption centre Bimala Sishu Griho chairperson Chandana Chakraborty to Delhi on February 2 and met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
They were also supposed to meet a Union Minister to discuss the adoption centres in Jalpaiguri, sources said.
Following the court order, the BJP removed Chowdhury from her Mahila Morcha post, saying her activity has harmed the party’s image.
“Chowdhury went to Delhi with a woman accused of child trafficking without the party’s consent. She has been removed from her post in BJP as her activity is harmful for the party’s image,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.
Hours earlier, Ghosh had said the party was not calling Chowdhury innocent or guilty at this stage, but the law of the land should prevail. He also said the BJP legal cell would assist her to get bail.
“Juhi is our party worker. I know her. Now suddenly her name has been linked to the case. So we are taking our own time. That doesn’t mean that we are calling her innocent.
“She has to be tried according to law. If she is guilty, the party will not take her side. She should be punished as per law of the land. Our legal cell will try to secure her bail because till now we don’t hold her guilty,” Ghosh said.
Chowdhury’s arrest came on a day when Chakraborty, now in custody along with her aide Sonali Mondal for selling at least 17 children through shady adoption deals, blamed her for wrongdoing and claimed they had visited Delhi to seek “help” for her organisation after an assurance from the BJP leader to “sort out all the issues”.
“I haven’t talked to anyone, Juhi did. She might have talked to (BJP leaders) Roopa Ganguly and Kailash Vijayvargiya. I was sitting in a separate room,” she said.
However, Vijayvargiya cast aspersions on the police action and advocated a central agency probe.
“I have no trust in the police investigation. In pursuance of a conspiracy, one after the other leaders of our party are being falsely implicated and arrested. We do not trust this (Bengal) government nor their police.
“This government and their police can go to any extent. So, we would like to see the matter being probed by a central agency,” he said.
Actor-turned-BJP MP Ganguly said those who are levelling such “detestable charges” against her “and a young girl like Juhi Chowdhury” would have to pay for it.
“The home (adoption centre) was running for a long time. How come the state government was not aware of any of these activities? I hope they were not sleeping,” she said.