In a major breakthrough, the Enforcement Directorate, probing the SSC teachers’ recruitment scam case in West Bengal, unearthed Rs 21 crore of cash from state commerce minister Partha Chatterjee’s close aide Arpita Mukherjee’s house that led to the arrest of Chatterjee on Saturday. As the opposition BJP stormed the streets of Kolkata protesting against Mamata Banerjee’s “corrupt government,” the TMC distanced itself from the whole event, maintaining that the cash recovered doesn’t belong to the party, while claiming that if Chatterjee had joined BJP, the incident wouldn’t have taken place. The BJP has also questioned Chief Minister Banerjee’s silence regarding this matter so far.
The arrest of Chatterjee followed after 27 hours of questioning and the recovery of Rs 21 crore of cash, foreign currencies, jewelry and 20 cell phones from Mukherjee’s upscale apartment in Kolkata. According to the ED, Chatterjee was arrested as he was evading and misleading the agency during the probe. Soon after his arrest, he was taken to the central government-run ESI hospital, instead of the state-government run SSKM hospital, for medical check-up. Then, he was produced before a court in Bankshall, following which he was remanded to ED custody for two days.
Here are the top developments from the sensational arrest of one of Bengal’s top TMC functionary Partha Chatterjee:
The ED has moved Calcutta High Court challenging the Bankshall court order of transferring Partha Chatterjee to SSKM Hospital. The probe agency has sought an urgent hearing on the matter before a special bench on Sunday. It has appealed that Chatterjee should be moved to a central government facility.
Chatterjee has been admitted to the SSKM hospital on Saturday evening under the direction of the Bankshall court after he complained of uneasiness. Chatterjee’s condition is reportedly stable. Meanwhile, the CBI has moved Calcutta HC challenging the lower court’s order to admit Chatterjee in a state-run hospital. The ED has sought an urgent hearing before the HC to transfer the senior TMC leader to the central government-run Command Hospital.
The cash and gold secured from Mukherjee’s apartment in Tollygunge was carried in 15 steel trunks sent by the RBI in a blue mini-truck at 5:30 pm. While being escorted by the ED officials, Mukherjee, claiming that she was harrassed by ED officials, said that she is “innocent and it is a BJP ploy against her.”
Another close aide of Chatterjee, Monalisa Das, a professor at Kazi Narul University in Bengal’s Asansol, is under ED lens as her name had surfaced during ED’s investigation on Mukherjee. However, Das has refuted all the claims against her. BJP MP Dilip Ghosh said, “Another person under the radar of the ED is one Monalisa, under whose name 10 flats are registered. She is also linked to Bangladesh.”
The ED had also arrested Chatterjee’s former Private Secretary and WBCS officer Sukanth Acharya on Saturday morning. Chatterjee’s guard and police officer Biswambar Mondal’s name has featured in a fresh plea before the HC in connection with the SSC scam. In the petition filed on Friday, it is claimed that at least ten members from Mondal’s family had been employed as primary school teachers in the same year. A bench led by Justice Abhijit Ganguly is likely to hear the plea on Monday.