08:08 GMT15 June 2021
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    While India grapples with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the Narendra Modi government has arrested the leaders of Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). The TMC alleged that the Modi government has unleashed its favourite weapon to dismantle the West Bengal government.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced heavy criticism from opposition leaders and residents in West Bengal for arresting the state minister heading the pandemic management body there.

    Two Bengali ministers, Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukharkjee, state legislator Madan Mitra and former legislator Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by India's top anti-corruption agency, the CBI, on Monday in connection with the 2016 Narada bribery case.

    No action, however, has been taken against two other accused individuals, Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari, who are now members of Prime Minister Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.

    Three-time minister Firhad Hakim is also the head of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and is currently leading the pandemic management team in the area. After being sworn in as part of the newly formed state Cabinet, he announced a slew of initiatives to tackle the pandemic, including setting up new safe homes and oxygen parlours. "We are now fighting a big battle against the coronavirus. We have to get the healthcare system of the state back on track", he had said.

    The opposition in the state, Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) unequivocally condemned the arrest of the Trinamool leaders.

    "In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, these arrests were made. They could've been arrested two days earlier or two days later", said Congress politician Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. 

    Similarly, the Left leader Biman Bose, tearing into Modi, said "When the people of the country are facing an unprecedented crisis of life and livelihood amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the government is trying to hide its incompetence by shifting people's focus".

    Several TMC supporters took to the streets to protest against the federal government and their untimely arrest, resulting in clashes between them and security forces. Prominent celebrities and intellectuals too slammed Narendra Modi on social media.

    A livid Mamata Banerjee additionally rushed to the CBI office in West Bengal's Kolkata and dared officials to arrest her as well. 

    The four individuals arrested were initially granted bail by a lower court, however, in a late-night hearing, the Calcutta High Court stayed the bail order. The court said it would hear the matter on Wednesday and until then the four will be held in judicial custody.

     

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