ED Starts Investigating Kolkata Fake Vaccination Case, Bengal Got Peeved

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Recently Kolkata and the entire West Bengal was shaken by the news of a fake vaccination camp organised in Kolkata. It was quite a big embarrassment for the state government. But now, Mamata Banerjee’s government is peeved with new development.

The Enforcement Directorate (EC) has become active in this case. It has sought relevant documents from Kolkata police relating to the case.

The Union health ministry had asked the West Bengal government last Tuesday to inquire into instances of Covid-19 vaccination camps being organised by unauthorised people in Kolkata and sought a report in two days.

It was Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan who wrote the letter to Bengal chief secretary Hari Krishna Dwivedi. The centre’s initiative came after the ministry’s attention was drawn to the matter by Mamata Banerjee’s bête noire Suvendu Adhikari, who is now the leader of opposition in the state assembly.

On the next day, Bengal chief minister reacted sharply. She said, “The issue of the dubious vaccination camps is an isolated case. The West Bengal government is not associated with them. We took prompt action the moment we received complaints.” She alleged that the centre did not intervene in the same way when ‘vaccination camp was organised in Gujarat in BJP party offices’. Significantly, she accused the central government of ‘using some agencies to ‘blow small things out of proportion’.

It seems she had apprehended the things that may come quite correctly. The ED never came up for a parallel investigation in any case that was being investigated by the Kolkata or the state police. Significantly, after the main accused Debanjan Deb’s photo with some leaders of TMC and IPS officers emerged, the Bengal BJP is demanding a CBI probe, in this case, alleging big shots of the TMC are involved. But the CBI cannot come in if neither the state nor the court asks it to investigate.

The ID has no such limitations. It cannot start a probe suo moto but can be associated with any probe by the police of any state or the CBI. The new Prevention of Money Laundering Act has widened its power, giving it a broader jurisdiction to probe any matter of financial irregularities.

According to sources what it has started is a primary investigation. If they come across some solid evidence, it will start a full-fledged investigation. It has the power to ask the state police to refashion its framing of charges or even the charge-sheet according to its findings.

The state government is worried that the centre will use the ED to open another front against it centring the fake vaccination camps. The CBI has in its arsenal The Sharada case, the Narada case, the coal smuggling case and the cattle smuggling case.

The centre is also mounting pressure on the state government on the issue of post-poll violence against the BJP workers. The state BJP has alleged 41 BJP workers have been killed after the election result was announced. The case is now with the Calcutta High Court, under whose direction the National Human Rights Commission is investigating the allegations.

(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)  

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