A CID team probing the source of over ₹49 lakh that was allegedly seized from three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand on Saturday, seized over ₹3 lakh from the office of a businessman in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Officers, who did not want to be identified, said the money found in the boot of the MLAs’ SUV on Saturday night was handed over to a contact of the leaders at this office.
The office is located in Lalbazar, opposite the Kolkata police headquarters.
According to investigators, the stock trader had a hand in transferring the amount to the three Congress MLAs.
Besides cash, the CID team raiding the office also seized 250 silver coins and several bank passbooks.
Officers said they would like to learn from the businessman the source of the money that was seized during Tuesday’s raid.
The three MLAs — Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari — have already been suspended by the Congress.
The Congress on Sunday alleged that the three suspended MLAs were part of a conspiracy hatched by the BJP to topple the party’s coalition government with the JMM and the RJD in Jharkhand.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter on Saturday that “The BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ in Jharkhand stands exposed tonight in Howrah. The game plan of ‘Hum Do’ in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra by installing E-D duo.
Officers said the businessman’s mobile phone has been switched off since the arrest of the three MLAs on Saturday and they had to break open the office door to gain access.
“We would like to question him and find out if the three MLAs were known to him and how,” said a senior CID officer.
The investigating team has found that the three MLAs had taken a flight from Guwahati to reach Kolkata on Friday before checking into a hotel on Sudder Street near Esplanade in central Kolkata.
There was no official entry of the MLAs in the hotel’s register possibly because the trio was acquainted with the hotel’s owner, officers said.
“It appears that on Saturday, an aide to the three MLAs reached the businessman’s office in Lalbazar on a scooter and returned with the cash, that was kept in a bag. A hotel employee had accompanied him on his trip,” the officer said.
Besides the three MLAs, two others including this aide have been arrested, the police said.
The three MLAs had been to Guwahati earlier in July to apparently meet some senior leaders of the state, CID officers said, adding that the money was possibly brought from Assam to Kolkata through the hawala route.
Irfan Ansari, one of the MLAs, told the police that he went to Assam in connection with the admission of his son and that he has been framed.