New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday sacked Partha Chatterjee, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a teacher recruitment scam, as state Industry Minister and from all party posts. “I have removed Partha Chatterjee as a minister. My party takes strict action. There are many plannings behind it but I don’t want to go into details,” said CM Mamata Banerjee.
Chatterjee was a powerful minister in Mamata Banerjee government and the secretary-general of Trinamool Congress. He was arrested on Saturday after large amount of cash was found at his associate Arpita Mukherjee’s Tollygunge flat.
The Enforcement Directorate recovered Rs 27.9 crore in cash, besides a huge amount of gold jewellery from an apartment linked to Arpita Mukherjee, considered a close associate of Partha Chatterjee. Last week, the probe agency had recovered over Rs 20 crore from her premises. In total, nearly Rs 50 crore in cash has been seized so far.
According to ED sources, Arpita Mukherjee has confessed during interrogation that the cash recovered from premises linked to her belonged to Chatterjee. She has claimed that she doesn’t know where it came from.
The stacks of cash were recovered from the apartment in Belgharia on Wednesday, and after overnight counting, it amounted to Rs 27.90 crore, they said. The investigators are still ascertaining the value of the gold jewellery, believed to be in kgs, they added.
The money and gold were found five days after the agency seized more than Rs 21 crore in cash, besides jewellery and foreign exchange from another flat of Mukherjee in south Kolkata’s Tollygunge area, following which she was arrested.
ED officials on Wednesday conducted coordinated raids at various properties at Rajdanga in south Kolkata and Belgharia in the northern fringes of the city.
During questioning, Mukherjee informed the ED about those properties, officials said. ED sleuths had to break open a door to get into the two flats in Belgharia’s Rathtala locality as the keys to open them could not be spotted, they said. Several “vital” documents were also found in the flats during a search, the official said.
The CBI, as directed by the Calcutta High Court, is probing the alleged irregularities committed in the recruitment of Group-C and D staff as well as teachers in government-sponsored and aided schools on recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC).
The ED is tracking the money trail in the scam. Chatterjee was the education minister when the alleged irregularities took place.
(With PTI inputs)