|Chatterjee presents the CMC budget amid the din on Saturday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal|
TT, March 18: Calcutta police had sought a list of all the equipment belonging to Narada in connection with an extortion case, two days before Calcutta High Court handed over the probe to the CBI.
A section of government officials said such a step was in line with the court's observation yesterday that the state police were "puppets on a string, the end of which is with the respondents (those named in the sting)".
A letter dated March 15, 2017, and addressed to Narada News chief Mathew Samuel's driver Radha Krishnan T.D. says: "Kindly provide the ledger/record in which electronic gadgets of Narada Media Private Limited in maintained, since inception of the establishment."
According to the letter, the documents had been requisitioned in connection with a case dated February 14, 2017, in which a purported extortion call was made to Union minister D.P. Yadav from a lodge in central Calcutta.
A police source said investigators had included multiple sections of forgery in the case without naming the principal accused.
"It is strange why the police sought details of the company's electronic gadgets since its date of inception when they are probing a recent case," a senior criminal lawyer said.
While investigating the extortion case registered with Muchipara police station, Calcutta police had held a news conference and released footage of a man resembling Samuel. The police had said they had found the footage in a laptop they seized from the lodge. Officially, however, Samuel was neither named nor identified as a suspect.
"Calcutta police had raided the Narada office in New Delhi last month and seized some items. Now, why would they need a list of all equipment?" a police officer not connected with the case said.
A lawyer said: "When they (the police) could not get Mathew Samuel because of the court immunity that protected him against any coercive action relating to the Narada case, this was the only way to get hold of the documents they needed for the sting case. They had to fall back on an extortion-forgery case."
No senior police officer at Lalbazar was available for comment.