West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee was on Saturday sent to Enforcement Directorate’s custody for two days by a court in connection with the agency’s investigation into the alleged teacher recruitment scam in the state School Service Commission in 2018, ANI reported.
The Enforcement Directorate arrested Chatterjee, a senior Trinamool Congress leader, earlier in the day after almost 24 hours of questioning. He was later produced him before a judge in the Bankshall court in Kolkata.
The 69-year-old was the state education minister in 2018 when allegedly jobs were given to candidates in return of money instead of deserving candidates who had qualified in the recruitment process. He is currently the secretary general of the Trinamool Congress and holds the portfolio of Parliament Affairs Department.
The Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes, also arrested Chatterjee’s aide Arpita Mukherjee, ANI reported.
The development came a day after the central agency conducted raids on the residential premises of Mukherjee and others linked to the alleged irregularities.
On Friday, the Enforcement Directorate said that it has recovered about Rs 20 crore from Mukherjee’s house.
“The said amount is suspected to be proceeds of crime of the SSC Scam,” the Enforcement Directorate had said. “The search team is taking the assistance of bank officials for the counting of cash through cash counting machines. A total of more than 20 mobile phones have also been recovered from the premises of Ms. Arpita Mukherjee, the purpose and use of which is being ascertained.”
The Enforcement Directorate inquiry was based on a first information report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. On June 15, the Calcutta High Court had asked the investigation agency to look into alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group C and Group D staff, assistant teachers of Class IX to Class XII and primary teachers.
A number of incriminating documents, records, details of dubious companies, electronic devices, foreign currency and gold had also been recovered from the premises of some persons linked to the alleged scam, the Enforcement Directorate had said on Friday.
Raids were also conducted at the houses of Paresh C Adhikary, minister of state for education, and Manik Bhattacharya, MLA and former president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, reported The Indian Express.
Other houses searched belonged to PK Bandopadhyay, an officer on special duty to Chatterjee, Sukanta Acharjee, Chatterjee’s private secretary, Chandan Mondal alias Ranjan, who is an alleged agent in the scam, Kalyanmay Bhattacharya, Chatterjee’s son-in-law, Krishna C Adhikary, Bhattacharya’s relative, Dr SP Sinha, former advisor to the School Service Commission, Kalyanmoy Ganguly, former president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Saumitra Sarkar, former president of the West Bengal Central School Service Commission, and Alok Kumar Sarkar, former deputy director of the school education department.
The Trinamool Congress has described the raids as a ploy by the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre to harass political opponents.
BJP blames Mamata Banerjee
The BJP’s national convenor of the IT cell Amit Malviya on Saturday shared an old video of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee praising Arpita Mukherjee.
“Not too long ago, Mamata Banerjee, from an open platform, praised Partha Chaterjee’s close aide, from whose residential premise, ED seized a small sum of 20 crore,” Malviya wrote on Twitter. “Mamata knew of her and the ‘good work’ she was doing. Make no mistake, Partha wasn’t scamming on his own accord.”
Earlier on Friday, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that the money recovered by the Enforcement Directorate from Mukherjee’s house has “nothing to do” with the party.
“Those who are named in this investigation, it is their responsibility to answer the questions related to them or their lawyers,” Ghosh had said. “Why campaign is going on with the name of the party? The party is watching and will give a speech in due time.”