Kolkata: West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Saturday after a prolonged interrogation since Friday. He was being grilled by the ED officials overnight in connection with the teacher recruitment scam case. The agency sleuths, who started the interrogation at the residence of the minister at 8 am on Friday, continued with the process till his arrest. ED officials have recovered Rs 20 crore cash from one of the properties of Chatterjee’s close associate Arpita Mukherjee in south Kolkata. Chatterjee was the Education Minister when the scam took place and the ED is probing the money laundering aspect of those allegedly involved in it.
It is the longest interrogation ever made by the probe agency so far. It may be recalled that the former Education Minister of West Bengal and Trinamool Congress Secretary General fell sick while facing a marathon interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with recruitment irregularities in West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) here on Friday.
Earlier, the ED officials reached the residence of Chatterjee, who is currently the state Commerce and Industries Minister, at Naktala in south Kolkata at around 9 am on Friday and started interrogation and it is still continuing on Saturday also. It is learnt that a little after 3 pm, Chatterjee complained about uneasiness and breathlessness. The ED officials, with the help of the aides of the minister, immediately informed his personal doctor. Soon a team of three doctors reached his residence of Chatterjee, checked him and gave him some medicines. After about 45 hours, Chatterjee felt relieved, though the doctors advised him to undergo an ECG. However, the ED officials continued with their activities at the residence of Chatterjee. The doctors have been kept on standby in another room in the minister’s house.
Reacting to the development, state Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said that several leaders and ministers of the party have faced tremendous mental pressure because of the excesses of the central agencies like the CBI and ED.”Earlier, senior leaders like the late Subrata Mukherjee, the late Tapas Paul and Sudip Bandopadhyay were harassed by the central agencies. Some of them even faced untimely death because of such mental pressure. We want to caution the BJP and the Union government that if anything happens to any of our leaders because of the excesses of the central agencies, we will not remain silent and take the Centre head on,” Bhattacharya said.
State Transport Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said that although the Calcutta High Court ordered only CBI inquiry into the WBSSC case, the agency has unnecessarily roped in the ED to imply a money laundering angle. “This has been done deliberately to harass our leaders and ministers,” he said. (With inputs from agencies)