SSC job ‘scam’: Rs 20 crore seized as ED raids houses of Bengal ministers Partha Chatterjee, Paresh Adhikary, others – The Indian Express

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday conducted raids at 14 locations, including the residences of West Bengal ministers Partha Chatterjee and Paresh Adhikary, and a Trinamool Congress MLA among others, as part of its investigation into the alleged scam in the recruitment of teachers by the School Service Commission (SSC).
The central agency claimed to have seized Rs 20 crore from the house of Arpita Mukherjee, a close associate of minister Partha Chatterjee as nearly 80-90 of its personnel carried out search operations across the state.
Chatterjee, the state Parliamentary Affairs, Commerce and Industry Minister who earlier held the education portfolio, was being questioned since morning at his Naktala house in south Kolkata where the raid was conducted.
Three doctors from the government-run SSKM Hospital reached the house of Chatterjee after he complained of chest pain around 3pm when his questioning was on, it is learnt. The doctors were also accompanied by the minister’s lawyer. Chatterjee was given a half an hour break after which ED officials started questioning him again. The minister complained of sickness thrice during the marathon questioning by the ED team which was still at his place till late evening, according to sources.
Agency officials also reached the house of a relative of Chatterjee at Pingla in West Medinipur district.
Paresh Adhikary, the Minister of State (MoS) for Education whose residence in Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar district was raided, said, “I am in Kolkata. They (ED) didn’t tell us about the visit. If I were there I would have offered them muri (puffed rice). My daughter and wife are there.”
While Chatterjee did not issue any statement till the report was filed, Adhikary said he was unable to contact his daughter and wife.
A team of agency officials also visited the Jadavpur residence of Trinamool MLA Manik Bhattacharya, former president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, whose name has cropped up in the primary school teachers hiring scam. He was given a questionnaire and asked to file his responses, said sources.
The cash seized from Arpita Mukherjee was kept in two bags at her flat in Haridevpur’s Diamond City Apartments on the outskirts of Kolkata, officials claimed. The currency notes were being tallied up using cash-counting machines with the help of bank officials, it was learnt.
Others whose premises were raided include PK Bandopadhyay and Sukanta Acharjee, officer on special duty (OSD) and personal secretary, respectively, to the then Education Minister; SP Sinha, adviser of the West Bengal Central School Service Commission and convenor of a five-member committee; Kalyanmoy Ganguly, former president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education; Saumitra Sarkar, ex-president of the West Bengal Central School Service Commission; Alok Kumar Sarkar, deputy director, School Education Department; Chandan Mondal, alias Ranjan, an agent; one Kalyanmay Bhattacharya and his relative Krishna C Adhikary.
The ED is investigating the money laundering aspect of the recruitment scam, where transactions worth crores of rupees were allegedly made for the appointment of teachers recruited through the SSC.
The ED is learnt to have lodged two FIRs in the case. The CBI has already questioned several SSC officials and politicians, including Chatterjee and Adhikary. The Calcutta High Court had earlier noted that a high-powered supervisory committee, approved by Chatterjee, was at the “root” of the alleged scam. The HC had ordered a CBI probe into the recruitment process of teachers in state-aided schools after committee members overseeing the process from January 2019 filed contradictory submissions to the court. The court had also directed the CBI to investigate the workings of the committee members engaged to oversee the recruitment process. The five members were SP Sinha, adviser to SSC, S Acharjee, private secretary to education minister, PK Bandopadhyay, officer on special duty to education minister, AK Sarkar, deputy director-education directorate, and T Panja, senior law officer of the department.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the money recovered by the ED had nothing to do with their party. It was the responsibility of the ones at whose place the seizure was made to answer the questions on this, he added. “We are keeping a close watch as why our party’s name is being linked with this,” he added.
TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, “I have never heard of her (Arpita Mukherjee) name. She does not have any connection with the party.”
Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari tweeted, “Piles of cash were found in envelopes of the West Bengal Education Ministry with the national emblem printed on them. Just a tip of the iceberg?”
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