The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday seized Rs 1.4 crore from an office in south Kolkata’s Ballygunge and said the money was the “proceeds of crime originating from coal smuggling”.
On Thursday evening, Kolkata police arrested two men travelling in a car in Gariahat after they allegedly failed to explain the source of the Rs 1crore they were carrying, officers said.
The ED on Thursday issued a statement saying Wednesday’s raid on the office of the Gajraj Group on Earle Street off Maddox Square in Ballygunge, from where Rs 1.4 crore was seized, was based on a “specific” input.
“A specific intelligence input was gathered that one highly influential political person was making an attempt to launder the proceeds of crime originating from coal smuggling through his close confidant Manjit Singh Grewal, alias Jitti Bhai. Accordingly, the Enforcement Directorate laid a trap and conducted search action on February 8 at the office of Gajraj Group situated at Earle Street, Kolkata, resulting in the seizure of Rs 1.4 crore cash and also incriminating media from there,” the statement said.
The Telegraph tried to contact Grewal for his reaction on Thursday. But text messages and calls made to his mobile number went unanswered.
Suvendu Adhikari, Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, tweeted that Grewal had handled chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s campaign in the Bhowanipore Assembly bypoll (in October 2021).
The ED statement also said: “This money was unaccounted cash, part of the total cash payment of approximately Rs 9 crore for a property called Salasar Guest House at an undervalued price. The market value of this property is more than Rs 12 crore, however, the deed value of the same is shown as around Rs 3 crore. This money was part of the agreed differential amount to be paid in cash from the proceeds generated from coal smuggling.”
An ED officer said Salasar Guest House was registered at an “undervalued price” in the office of an additional sub-registrar in Alipore. The money that was seized was to change hands in the office of the Gajraj Group at 5pm on Wednesday.
The ED statement said: “Preliminary analysis of material on record suggests a greater nexus and it appears that this person was also involved in the handling of illegal cash of minister.”
Reacting to the ED’s statement, Opposition leader Adhikari tweeted on Thursday seeking to know whether the chief minister would take action against Grewal.
“Manjit Singh Grewal @ Jitta; who handled @MamataOfficial’s Bhabanipur Byelection campaign, has been named in @dir_ed’s Press Release. He can be seen alongside CM & her politician brother Kartik Banerjee. Will CM clarify, like Partha Chatterjee, she'd also take action against him?”Adhikari tweeted.
“Those who are holding up a picture (to accuse Trinamul) must first ask Narendra Modi why he was seen in pictures with people who have run away with the country wealth,” Trinamul spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
The car from which Rs 1 crore was allegedly seized on Thursday was intercepted by a joint team of the special task force and the anti-rowdy squad of the detective department near the Gariahat crossing.
“The two who have been arrested are Mukesh Saraswat, 26, who lives on Jamunalal Bajaj Street, and driver Dulal Mondal, 32,” said an officer.