Enforcement Directorate (ED) sleuths, probing the multi- crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities scam, are now currently hunting for four missing vehicles from the Diamond City residence of Arpita Mukherjee in South Kolkata’s Tollygunge.
The central agency sleuths recovered huge treasures for the first time on July 22 from the Tollygunge residence.
According to the ED sleuths, five parking slots were reserved for Arpita Mukherjee at the Diamond City complex. And as per records five high-end vehicles, which include two Mercedes Benz vehicles, one Honda City, one Honda CR-V and Audi A4, were parked there till July 22 evening when the Central agency sleuths started raiding her flat in this housing complex. However, ED sources confirmed that by the time they concluded the search and seizure operations on July 23 early morning, four of the five vehicles went missing. “We have been able to trace just one white- colour Mercedes Benz vehicle, which we have confiscated. We are trying to track the remaining four vehicles and checking the CCTV footage in the housing complex within the period when these vehicles went missing,” confirmed a central agency official.
The ED sleuths do not rule out the existence of cash, gold or other crucial documents in the missing four vehicles. It is learnt that out of the four vehicles Arpita Mukherjee used the two Mercedes Benz vehicles and the remaining three vehicles were used for other purposes.
Meanwhile, both Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee were presented at the ESI Hospital in Joka in the southern outskirts of Kolkata on Friday afternoon for medical examinations. The reactions from the two were totally different.
Arpita Mukherjee broke down into tears while coming down from the ED vehicle, Partha Chatterjee said just one line to the media, that he is a “victim of conspiracy”.
Ridiculing Chatterjee’s one liner, state Trinamool Congress general secretary and party spokesman, Kunal Ghosh said that in such cases the natural reaction would have been — “I am innocent”.
“However, if ParthaChatterjee really thinks that he is a victim of conspiracy, he should prove that in the court,” Ghosh said.
I am a victim of conspiracy: Partha Chatterjee
A day after he was stripped of all posts in the TMC and relieved of ministerial duties, following his arrest in connection with a school recruitment scam, Partha Chatterjee on Friday said that he was a victim of a conspiracy hatched against him.
The 69-year-old leader, who is in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate, was taken to ESI hospital at Joka on the southern outskirts of the city for a medical-check up during the day.
As he deboarded a vehicle and was approached by reporters, Chatterjee said he was just a “victim of a conspiracy”. Later, on his exit from the hospital, Chatterjee also said that only time would tell if the action taken against him by the TMC was justified.
Chatterjee, who was the industries and parliamentary affairs minister, had held the education portfolio when the scam was allegedly pulled off. He was relieved of his duties as minister in-charge of various departments, and suspended from the TMC on Thursday. One of his close aides, Arpita Mukherjee, was also arrested by the ED after crores of rupees in cash were seized from her residences in parts of the city. Mukherjee, who was taken to ESI hospital for check-up in a separate car, was seen breaking down on her arrival at the medical facility.
According to ED sources, both Chatterjee and Mukherjee were being questioned at the agency’s CGO complex at the moment.
On Thursday evening, officials of the central agency had raided a third apartment linked to Mukherjee in the city’s Chinar Park area.
As the flat was locked and the keys could not be traced, ED sleuths broke open its entrance door in the presence of central force officers.
Earlier, a raid was carried out in Mukherjee’s Belghoria area flat, where around Rs 28 crore unaccounted cash was apparently found stashed along with large quantities of gold and silver.
The central agency had also reportedly seized over Rs 21 crore in cash from another flat belonging to Mukherjee in Tollygunge area.
The value of the gold jewellery is still being ascertained, according to ED sources.
The CBI, as directed by 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 the recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission.
The ED is looking into the money trail involved in the scam.