Tales of bahubali Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal — who is being probed by the CBI in a cattle smuggling case — “ruling” over Birbhum have been tumbling out since he came under the scanner of the agency.
The latest addition to the stories revealing Anubrata Mondal’s clout was unearthed on Friday when a businessman, speaking exclusively to News18, gave details of how he was forced to cough up a hefty bribe to the TMC neta in return for a tender.
On Friday morning, when a CBI team reached Anubrata Mondal’s rice mill, they were made to wait for 40 minutes before they entered the premises and carried out an extensive raid for over five hours. Inside the mill, the agency found five high-end cars, with one of them bearing a sticker of the West Bengal government.
Further probe revealed that none of the cars were in the TMC leader’s name. Of the five vehicles, one was found to be owned by Probir Mondal, a car dealer in Birbhum, who, though initially hesitant, shared with News18 how he was forced to bribe the TMC leader.
Probir Mondal said in 2017, the then District Magistrate of Birbhum asked him to submit a tender for a contract involving work on the Tilpara Dam. The businessman complied but after waiting for several days to receive an answer from the DM, he approached the official again who asked him to get in touch with Anubrata Mondal.
“Anubrata Mondal told me that we have to give him Rs 5 crore in cash and a car. However, I refused since it was not possible for me to gather the amount. It was the year of panchayat elections. After a few days, he called me and said I can give the amount in instalments. So, in March 2018, we gave him Rs 1.5 crore. Our papers were processed and when we were waiting to receive the order, I was told by the Zilla Parishad to go to Bolpur. In Bolpur, Anubrata Da told me to give the residual amount or the order would not be released. Somehow, I arranged Rs 2 crore more and gave it to him.”
The car dealer then waited for the rains to abate to get the work permit but this time, the TMC leader had a new demand — he allegedly asked for a Ford Endeavour car worth Rs 46 lakh. A desperate Probir Mondal said he took a loan, bought the car and gave it to Anubrata Mondal.
However, Probir Mondal said the TMC neta soon realised that the project on the dam was worth about Rs 500 crore and he had let off the former too easily. There was a fresh demand for another Rs 5 crore, the businessman claimed, adding that this time, he failed to pay up the bribe.
“When the final chalan was supposed to be given, work was suspended. When I went to get my money back, Anubrata Mondal threatened that he would get a drugs case slapped on me. He asked me if I wanted my money back or jail. Since then, my car and money are with him. Even leaves don’t move without his nod, so we are helpless.”
According to sources in the agency, several businessman have similar tales to recount in Birbhum, the unchallenged bastion of the bahubali neta.