The Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on Friday morning raided the residence of West state minister Partha Chatterjee in connection with the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment scam,
At the same time, two other probing teams landed at the residences of state minister Paresh Chandra Adhikari at Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar district and former advisor of the screening committee of WBSSC Santi Prasad Sinha in South Kolkata.
A fourth team reached at the house of Chandan Mandal, alias Ranjan, at Bagda in North 24 Parganas district. Mandal is believed to have acted as the key intermediary in the scam.
“A total of 13 teams of around 90 officials of ED are conducting parallel raids in 13 places in different pockets of the state. Each team has women members and 13 teams of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are accompanying them to ensure their safety during the raid process,” an ED official confirmed.
It is learnt that that ED team suddenly reached the raid spots without even informing the local police.
When the central agency team landed ‘Partha Chatterjee, currently the state commerce & industries minister, at Nakala in South Kolkata at around 9.15 a.m, Chatterjee personally asked the raiding central agency sleuths to enter his residence.
On being informed, a team from the local police station reached near Partha Chatterjee and raised guardrail barricades around his residence to keep the public and the media away.
Though Partha Chatterjee did not field calls, Paresh Adhikari interacted with the section of the media. “I am in Kolkata now. I came to attend the Martyrs’ Day programme of the party on Thursday. Was supposed to go back to Mekhliganj on Friday. I heard that an ED team has reached my residence there. But I do not know the details,” he said.
ED is conducting a parallel probe along with Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the recruitment scam. The CBI had questioned Partha Chatterjee, Paresh Chandra Adhikari and Santi Prasad Sinha a number of times in this connection.
Although the ED had taken charge of investigation in the money-trail angle in the scam, this is for the first time that the agency sleuths have conducted physical raids and that too at 13 places at a time.
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Dr Santanu Sen has questioned the timing of the raid. “Only on Thursday, our party’s Martyrs’ Day programme witnessed a massive turnout of people. And the raid is being conducted on Friday morning. This is a clear expression of BJP and the Union government’s fear factor,” Sen said.