Teacher recruitment scam: ED officials raid residences of two Bengal ministers
West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee

Kolkata: A team of Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials raided the residences of Bengal ministers Partha Chatterjee and Paresh Adhikari on Friday as part of its probe into a teacher recruitment scam, a source in the agency said.

At least seven to eight ED personnel arrived at Chatterjee’s Naktala residence here around 8:30 am, and carried out searches till 11 am with CRPF personnel keeping guard outside, the source said.

Another team of agency officials visited Adhikari’s home at Mekhliganj in Coochbehar district and talked to his family members, he stated.

According to the ED source, officials had also carried out a simultaneous raid at the residence of the former chairman of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, Manik Bhattacharya, in the Jadavpur area of the city.

The CBI, as directed by the high court, is looking into the alleged irregularities committed in the recruitment of Group-C and D staff as well as teachers in government-sponsored and aided schools on recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission. The ED is tracking the money trail in the scam.

Chatterjee, currently industries and commerce minister, held the education portfolio when the scam was allegedly pulled off. He was interrogated by the CBI twice, once on April 26 and then on May 18.

Adhikari, the minister of state (MoS) for education, had also been grilled by the CBI with his daughter losing her job as school teacher. He told reporters he could not get in touch with his family over the phone.

“They did not intimate us about the visit to our house today. I am in Kolkata in connection with the July 21 Martyrs’ Day rally of the TMC. Had I been around, I would have treated them to muri (puffed rice), he said.

The TMC, meanwhile, described the concerted raids as ploy by the BJP government at the Centre to harass political opponents.

“This raid by ED, a day after the spectacular Martyrs’ Day rally that created ripples all over the country, is nothing but an attempt to harass and intimidate leaders of the TMC. The CBI has already interrogated them (ministers) as part of a court directive and they are cooperating. Now, the ED is being invoked only to discredit them. The money laundering issue is being invented by the BJP,” transport minister Firhad Hakim said.

The BJP, however, maintained that the TMC aided large-scale anomalies in the recruitment process of teachers at primary, upper primary and secondary level since coming to power.

“TMC leaders and people close to them duped lakhs of qualified youths and handed over their jobs to ineligible ones. The CBI and ED are progressing on right path. More skeletons will tumble out of the cupboard. The BJP has no role to play in the issue,” the saffron party’s national vice-president, Dilip Ghosh, added.

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