Mountain of cash, 5-kg gold unearthed from Chatterjee's aide's flat
Another Rs. 29 crore in cash and 5kg of gold were found at the flat of West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee's aide during an 18-hour raid by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The minister has been arrested in a multi-crore teacher recruitment scam in West Bengal. ED has now recovered a total of Rs. 50 crore from two houses of Arpita Mukherjee, Chatterjee's aide.
- Senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal Commerce and Industries Minister, Chatterjee's arrest comes as the latest in a string of opposition leaders being prowled by the ED.
- The TMC denounced his arrest as a "ploy" to "harass" political opponents.
- The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, said that the TMC had "supported large-scale abnormalities" in the appointment of teachers at all school levels.
On Wednesday, the ED raided a second house belonging to Mukherjee in the North 24 Parganas area of West Bengal. The counting finished at 4 am on Thursday morning and the ED managed to recover Rs 29 crore in cash and 5 kg worth of gold. The agency officials left her Belgharia flat with 10 trunks of cash, NDTV reported.
WB SSC recruitment scam | North 24-Parganas: ED officials leave the Belgharia residence of Arpita Mukherjee, close aide of WB Minister Partha Chatterjee, after filling 10 trunks with cash amounting to approx Rs 29cr found there; a total of Rs 40cr found from her premises so far. pic.twitter.com/t9gEIHyb08— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2022
Altogether, the ED has recovered Rs 50 crore in cash from two flats belonging to Mukherjee, who has been seen at TMC functions with Chatterjee and CM Mamata Banerjee as well. As per reports, Mukherjee claimed that the minister used her house as a "mini-camp." Additionally, the ED used three note-counting machines to calculate the cash recovered on Wednesday, NDTV reported.
On July 22, the ED raided Mukherjee's first house and recovered Rs 21 crore in cash, Rs. 50 lakh in foreign exchange, and Rs 2 crore worth of gold bars. The officials also recovered a 40-page diary, which can provide crucial headway in the investigation. Both Chatterjee and his aide Mukherjee were arrested a day after the first raid, on July 23.
Speaking at a local event in West Bengal, Banerjee said, "If anyone is guilty, they should be jailed for life." Chatterjee is seen as a close aide of the CM and his arrest comes as a shocker to the party. "A verdict should be given based on truth, within a specific time frame," she said, according to Zee News.
After a two-day long interrogation, Chatterjee was admitted to state-run SSKM hospital as he complained of "uneasiness." However, the Calcutta HC, operating on an ED plea, directed that he be admitted to AIIMS Bhubaneswar. The minister was flown to AIIMS on July 25, and discharged a day later. Chatterjee is now under ED custody in West Bengal.
To recall, Chatterjee was arrested on Saturday after 27 hours of questioning as part of a probe into the multi-crore teacher recruitment scam. Jobs were offered in lieu of money, and the scam reportedly took place during Chatterjee's tenure as the Education Minister. There have been reports of alleged irregularities in appointing teaching and non-teaching staff in government schools.