The Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the multi-crore financial scam related to recruitment irregularities in the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) on Saturday arrested Arpita Mukherjee, a close aide of former West Bengal Education Minister and Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee.
The ED move came hours after Chatterjee, who is currently the state Commerce and Industries Minister, was arrested by the financial probe agency in the same case on Saturday morning.
Mukherjee’s arrest from her residence in South Kolkata was officially announced by the ED at 5.14 p.m. on Saturday, about seven hours after the probe agency nabbed Chatterjee.
The ED sleuths said that since it will not be possible to present her at any court on Saturday and Sunday, for these two days she will be lodged at the ED’s office in the CGO complex in Salt Lake.
Incidentally, Chatterjee, following an order passed by a lower court, will also be lodged at the same ED office before being produced at a special PMLA court on Monday.
ED officials said that in the interim period, agency sleuths will integrate the duo by placing them face to face.
While the ED sleuths were taking away Mukherjee from her residence, she kept saying “I am innocent. I am being unnecessarily framed by the BJP”.
It is learnt that the ED has recovered cash and other items worth over Rs 40 crore from Mukherjee’s residence, including cash in Indian and foreign currencies, gold ornaments, sales deeds of eight flats and two high-end Apple iPhones, among others.
According to ED sources, Mukherjee was a small-time actress in Odia movies. However, her fortunes changed after she was introduced to Chatterjee six years back following which the two were frequently spotted together at different public programmes.
She was even spotted at the inauguration of a Durga Puja where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was also present.
Mukherjee reportedly told the ED sleuths that she was introduced to Chatterjee by a real estate promoter.
As per information available with the ED, she event went to a foreign tour with Chatterjee, when the latter was the state Education Minister.
Mukherjee’s late father was a Central government officer. After his sudden demise, a job offer was also made to Mukherjee on compassionate grounds. However, she refused to accept the offer and claimed that she intended to make a career in the silver screen.