A BJP leader found hanging from the ceiling of a shop in north Bengal’s Hemtabad may have been involved in the alleged “disappearance” of substantial cash from a mini bank, the Trinamool Congress has alleged. Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien met with President Ram Nath Kovind this morning and submitted a letter to him from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying the “suspected suicide” by the BJP leader was being wrongly portrayed as a “political case” by the opposition party.
After the letter was given, details reached Mr O’Brien about the probe into missing funds, which his office has now shared.
The BJP leader, Debendra Nath Ray, was the secretary of a mini bank since 2012 and a probe by the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Banks or ARCS found that of Rs 4.97 crore deposited in the bank, only Rs 2.37 crore was accounted for. A sum of Rs 2.6 crore was “not found in the bank”, a statement said.
The ARCS will share more details once the probe is complete, it said.
Ms Banerjee’s letter was delivered to the President a day after a team of senior BJP leaders met with Mr Kovind and submitted a letter condemning the “killing” of the leader, and demanding the dissolution of the state assembly.
The BJP observed a 12-hour bandh in north Bengal on Tuesday to protest the “killing” of the leader. Today, the BJP is surrounding police stations in several places in south Bengal, including Kolkata, as a mark of continued protest.
Debendra Nath Ray was found hanging outside a shop on Monday in North Dinajpur district, 454 km from Kolkata, triggering allegations from the BJP that he was killed by members of the Trinamool Congress who then made the death look like a suicide.
The West Bengal Police has said it is prima facie a case of suicide and a note was found in the politician’s pocket naming two people, one of whom has been arrested. Mr Ray was elected to the Bengal assembly from Hemtabad constituency in 2016 on a Communist Party of India (Marxist) ticket. He joined the BJP in 2019.
“…This is in the context of your meeting with a delegation of BJP who might have appraised you with some distorted fact,” Ms Banerjee said in the letter to President Kovind.
“His body was found on a hanging condition from a tin shed/verandah in front of a mobile shop which he used to visit to meet the local people. On receipt of post mortem and on primary investigation, West Bengal Police has reported that it is a case of suspected suicide and could be related to some local money transfer activities,” Ms Banerjee said in the letter.
“The note found in a pocket of the deceased also names two persons who are allegedly found to be related to such money transfer activities in the locality. Therefore, I am sorry to say that it does not appear to be a political case being projected by BJP,” the Chief Minister said.
A family member of the BJP MLA has said some people came to the house at 1 am and called him away. “The people who came and called him away were some miscreants who must have killed him. The CBI must probe his death,” Mr Ray’s nephew Girish Chandra Ray said on Monday.
BJP chief JP Nadda was among those who tweeted on the leader’s death. “The suspected heinous killing of Debendra Nath Ray, BJP MLA from Hemtabad in West Bengal, is extremely shocking and deplorable. This speaks of the Gunda Raj & failure of law and order in the Mamta govt. People will not forgive such a govt in the future. We strongly condemn this,” Mr Nadda tweeted.