|Juhee Chowdhury (right) with Roopa Ganguly. File picture|
TT, Feb. 28: BJP leader Juhee Chowdhury was arrested from near the Nepal border this evening, hours after a key suspect claimed the politician had spoken to two party seniors for "clearances" for the Jalpaiguri orphanage from where babies were allegedly sold illegally.
Officers of the CID said Juhee, a general secretary of the BJP Mahila Morcha who was on the run for the past 10 days, was "probably planning to escape to Nepal". She was arrested from Khoribari in Darjeeling district around 10.45pm, the sources said.
The CID sources said the sleuths tracked down Juhee's cellphone tower location.
"Mostly, the phone was switched off. But a couple of calls were made in between. That was enough to track her," said an officer.
Juhee has been booked under several IPC sections, including 370 (trafficking and exploitation), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery).
Earlier in the day, Chandana Chakraborty, the arrested owner of the Jalpaiguri orphanage, said Juhee had spoken to BJP Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya to get "assistance and necessary clearances from the government" for the facility.
Chandana named Roopa and Vijayvargiya while she was being taken to the CID office in Siliguri.
The police didn't make any attempt to prevent her from speaking to the media. It was not clear if Chandana was speaking under coercion or on her own.
"Juhee has been associated with my organisation for the past three years. She had even taken me to places where senior leaders like Roopa Ganguly and Kailash Vijayvargiya sit and speak with party workers. I am not a politician and was sitting in the next room. Juhee went and spoke to them so that my NGO and the shelters we run were provided with assistance and necessary clearances from the government," Chandana said.
Told about the allegations, Roopa said in Calcutta: "I don't have to respond to wild allegations levelled by an accused against me. Remember, that the press is not the judiciary."
Vijayvargiya, who was in Varanasi today campaigning for the BJP for the March 8 Assembly polls, termed the allegations "baseless".
"I may have met Juhee Chowdhury. I don't remember. I have called a meeting on March 9 to discuss the issue with our leaders in Bengal. But the allegations of BJP leaders being involved in the baby sale racket are baseless," he said.
The CID had been looking for Juhee for the past 10 days. She has been accused of helping Chandana's NGO, North Bengal People's Development Centre, to get renewal papers for the orphanage.
Chandana claimed before the media that she was "innocent".
"Manash (her brother) is innocent. Sonali (the chief adoption officer of the NGO) is also innocent. In fact, I am innocent too and have been implicated in the case. I have been made a scapegoat. The CID should explore certain issues to find out the real people behind the crime," she said outside the CID office.
"We had taken Juhee's help for the development of the shelters," Chandana added.
Her brother Manash Bhowmik and the NGO's chief adoption officer Sonali Mondal have also been arrested in connection with the case.
Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said "every politician, MP or MLA has to do a lot of social work and helping someone by taking him or her to Delhi is not a crime".
"I, too, help people, but it is not possible to run a background check every time. If any BJP politician or elected representative is involved in any give-and-take relationship, he or she would be penalised. If it is proved that BJP leaders are guilty, the party would not show any mercy," said Ghosh.