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regular-article-logo Monday, 26 February 2024

Bengal school recruitment scam: CBI conducts fresh raids at houses and institutions of TMC leaders

Among the heavyweight Trinamul leaders booked by the central agencies are former education minister Partha Chatterjee, MLA and former president of the state primary education board Manik Bhattacharya and MLA Jiban Krishna Saha

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 30.11.23, 11:39 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

  • CBI has recovered and seized about Rs 32 lakhs in cash from the house of Trinamul Congress MLA from Domkal, Jafikul Islam so far. The counting process of the recovered cash is not yet over. The cash, sources said, were recovered from a toilet and one of the bedrooms of the leader
  • The central agency has also seized gold ornaments from the MLA’s residence. The jewelry, whose value is yet to be ascertained, purportedly belonged to the MLA’s wife and her daughters
  • Several incriminating documents, the CBI claimed, were also recovered from the MLA’s Domkal premises. Search operations at Islam’s B.Ed college, a kilometer away from the MLA’s residence where officers are looking into the details of present and past students, are still on
  • Islam’s family members claimed that the recovered cash were proceeds from a recent sale of some of their properties. The agency, however, maintained that the family failed to show purchase receipts of the recovered ornaments
  • Islam is currently attending the winter session of the state Assembly in Calcutta while the agency is questioning his family members in connection with the recovered assets that are suspected to be proceeds of the school recruitment scam

Less than 24 hours after Union Home Minister Amit Shah left the borders of Bengal after training guns against the Mamata Banerjee government, accusing the Trinamul Congress of remaining steeped in large-scale corruption, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched a fresh set of simultaneous and wide-spread search operations at the residences of several Trinamul Congress leaders, including an MLA and two civic body councillors belong to the ruling TMC dispensation, for their alleged involvement in the state’s school recruitment scam.

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The raids, which began early Thursday morning in at least eight locations of Calcutta, Murshidabad and Cooch Behar, were reportedly conducted as a follow-up action to the investigation leads received from examining some of the prime suspects arrested in the case.

Among the heavyweight Trinamul leaders booked by the central agencies are former education minister Partha Chatterjee, MLA and former president of the state primary education board Manik Bhattacharya and MLA Jiban Krishna Saha.

Among the premises raided by the CBI on Thursday were the residences of Jafikul Islam, the MLA of Domkal in Murshidabad district, and Calcutta Municipal Corporation councillor Bappadittya Dasgupta and Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation councillor Debraj Chakraborty. Except for Dasgupta’s residence in Patuli in the south-eastern fringes of Calcutta where agency officers left after over five hours of search and examination and at Chakraborty’s house in North Calcutta where CBI officers left at around 2.30 PM, the raids continued to take place at the rest of the premises amid tight security cover of central paramilitary forces, till reports last came in.

While Islam runs his own B.Ed and D.El.Ed training in the education hub of Domkal, Dasgupta, the civic body head of Ward number 101, is known to have remained in close proximity with Partha Chatterjee during the latter’s tenure as education minister. Chakraborty, on the other hand, is the husband of Trinamul MLA and crooner Aditi Munshi.

The team of agency officers which landed up at the Domkal residence of Islam, a leader perceived to have been in close relationship with Maink Bhattacharya, later split into two groups and raided Islam’s college as well. Sources in the agency confirmed that certain incriminating evidence were recovered from Islam’s residence and recruitment-related documents were being scanned at the principal’s chamber of the legislator’s college.

The team of CBI officers who reached Dasgupta’s house in Patuli were learnt to have left with the councillor’s mobile phone, his up-to-date bank statements and resumes of certain candidates for further scrutiny and were also learnt to have closely inspected his IT Return file. Dasgupta was reportedly also questioned about certain actions of Partha Chatterjee during his tenure as minister. “I have extended my full cooperation in their search and told the officers that I would continue to do the same if they need me to. The agency has not given me any appearance notice,” Dasgupta said while claiming he had no involvement in the scam.

In Tegharia, in the northern corners of the city, the CBI reached Chakraborty’s residence at around 8.30 AM and, after spending some four hours there, left with the leader to his second residence at Dum Dum Park which doubles up as a studio for Chakraborty’s wife, a professional singer. “The officers have found no documents relevant to the alleged scam at my place. These raids are being conducted because we are representatives of the Trinamul Congress. We are proud representatives of our party,” Chakraborty told reporters after the CBI team left.

In Cooch Behar, the CBI was learnt to have conducted searches at a B.Ed college in the Block II of the district. Local TMC leaders Sajal Sarkar and Shyamal Kar, it was understood, were in the agency scanner. In Murshidabad’s Burwan, the residence of a person, believed to be close to the arrested scam accused Kuntal Ghosh, was also raided by the agency.

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