BJP leader’s arrest with cocaine rocks India, leads to more detentions
The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in India is feeling the heat after its youth leader was arrested for possessing drugs which led to the detention of more party leaders.
BJP youth-wing leader Pamela Goswami was arrested with cocaine worth lakhs of rupees from south Kolkata’s upscale New Alipore area.
Goswami, the state secretary of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), was along with a friend, identified as Prabir Kumar Dey, in her car when both of them were nabbed.
Around 100 gm of cocaine “worth a few lakh of rupees” was found in her handbag, and other parts of the car, police claimed.
Acting on a tip-off, sleuths of the New Alipore police station made the arrests when she was parking the vehicle, an officer said. “She was involved in drug trafficking for quite some time. Today, we got information that she, along with her supplier Prabir, was reaching the spot to hand over the drugs to the purchasers,” he said.
A team of policemen in eight vehicles surrounded Goswami’s car and apprehended her, he said.
The BJP youth-wing leader’s security guard, who was inside the same vehicle, was also arrested, the police officer said. “An investigation into the matter is underway. We are trying to find out whether she is involved in any drug racket,” he said.
Pamela Goswami with a friend.
The BJP said it suspected that Goswami was being framed, but added that if she is found guilty, the law should take its course. “We had earlier seen that the state police had named several BJP activists in arms cases. I do not have much information about this incident that is why I will not be able to say more. Pamela is a young girl. If she has done anything wrong, the law will take its course,” BJP MP Locket Chatterjee said.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, meanwhile, slammed the saffron party and said it was a shame that even women from its fold were found involved in such illegal acts. “Earlier, we saw the involvement of several BJP leaders in child trafficking, and now drug trafficking. They cannot cry conspiracy every time,” Bengal minister and senior TMC leader Chandrima Bhattacharya said.
The Alipur police also arrested another BJP leader Rakesh Singh and his two sons. A court turned down the bail plea of Rakesh Singh and remanded him in five days’ police custody. Rakesh, 52, identified as a key conspirator in the drugs case by party colleague Pamela Goswami.
The court sent Rakesh to lock-up till March 1. His two sons, Shubham and Shaheb, who had been arrested for blocking cops, were granted bail by a separate court.
The other person arrested in the case, Jeetendra Kumar Singh (26), who was held from his home in Orphangunje — and whom the cops have called a ‘key conspirator’ — was also sent to police custody.
The police have sought the court’s nod to record the statement of at least two key witnesses, one of them believed to be Goswami, before a judicial magistrate as early as Friday.
The cops told the court that they needed to seize and conduct forensic tests on Rakesh’s cellphone, laptop and other electronic gadgets. “This has a bearing on the investigation. We need to question him in detail about the supply chain and modus operandi of the drugs gang,” said public prosecutor SP Singh.
BJP vs BJP
Before joining the BJP in 2018, Goswami had been a fashion model and actress. As she was whisked away, Goswami tried to make a last ditched political play, shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” for the news cameras.
After the arrest, the BJP cried foul, alleging that Goswami had been framed. “The elections are near, and the model code of conduct is yet to be enforced,” said Samik Bhattacharya, the BJP’s state spokesperson. “The police are now under the control of the chief minister. We also need to keep these in mind.”
However, new developments soon put the BJP on a sticky wicket. In a dramatic scene, Goswami blamed leaders of the BJP itself. “I want a probe by the CID [West Bengal police’s elite Criminal Investigation Department],” Goswami screamed to the media as she was led to the court under police custody. “Arrest Rakesh Singh, close aide of Kailash Vijayvargiya. This is a conspiracy.”
Vijayvargiya is the national general secretary of the BJP and the party’s central observer for West Bengal.
To add to this, Goswami’s father wrote to the police, characterising his daughter as a “drug addict”.
The Telegraph reported that the police’s initial investigation seemed to support Goswami’s allegation having found evidence suggesting Singh had planted the cocaine in her car.