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ED Gets Custody of Partha Chatterjee; Will Take Action if Found Guilty, Says TMC

The ED was directed by the court to take Chatterjee to the hospital after he said that he wasn't 'feeling well'.

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After West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged teacher recruitment scam, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) said on Saturday, 23 July, that if he's found guilty, the party would initiate action against him.

"If the charges against Partha are true, then action will be taken against him on a party and government level. We hope that that probe is wrapped up at the earliest and facts are presented before the court. No need to drag this out," TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said while addressing a press conference.

The party also denied any connection whatsoever with the money that has been seized.

"The person from whose house the money was found is not associated with TMC in any way," Ghosh added.

Chatterjee was earlier remanded in the custody of the ED for two days after his arrest. The minister, who has been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), will also be produced in a special court on Monday.

This comes after he was produced in the city's Bankshall court earlier in the day.

"Since this is a special case, this does not lie in this court's jurisdiction. He (Partha Chatterjee) will be produced before a special court at 10:30 am on Monday," the magistrate said, as per ANI.

Chatterjee, who is currently the industry minister, was taken to the ED's office at CGO Complex in the Salt Lake area. "He was not cooperating with our officers who were questioning him since Friday morning. He will be produced before a court during the day," an ED official told news agency PTI.
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'ED Going After Chatterjee Because He Is in the TMC'

The TMC, however, said that central agencies were acting against Chatterjee only because he was a member of the party.

"Just because Partha is in the TMC that's why central agencies are going against him. But those who joined the BJP washing machine (sic), there has been no probe against them [sic]," Transport Minister Firhad Hakim said.

Party leader Aroop Biswas also reiterated the stand of his colleagues, saying that the ED was "trying to associate one person with another on the basis of a picture or two."

'Partha Chatterjee Not Feeling Well, Has Developed Heartache': Lawyer

Meanwhile, Chatterjee's lawyer said that he was not feeling well. "He (Partha Chatterjee) has developed heartache. We demanded that proper medical facilities be given to him if ED's custody is granted," he said.

The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate had also ordered authorities to take Chatterjee to the state-run SSKM hospital.

Chatterjee's personal secretary, Sukanta Acharya, was also arrested by the ED on Saturday.

The arrests come after over Rs 20 crore was seized from the minister's aide Arpita Mukherjee during overnight raids on Friday night as part of the probe. She has been detained by the ED.

"Searches were conducted in 14 locations, out of which two were suspicious, including Arpita Mukherjee's residence. Documents recovered from her house show direct link and exchange of money between two parties," the ED said.

Chatterjee held the education portfolio when the alleged scam was pulled off. He was interrogated by the CBI twice – once on 26 April and then on 18 May.

At least seven to eight ED personnel arrived at the minister's Naktala residence around 8:30 am on Friday, with CRPF personnel keeping guard outside.

The ED is looking into the alleged irregularities 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 Raids

The central agency carried out simultaneous raids at the properties of Chatterjee, Arpita Mukherjee, Minister of State for Education Paresh C Adhikary, and former chairman of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education Manik Bhattacharya on Friday.

Rs 21.20 crore in cash was recovered from Mukherjee's home in south Kolkata. Photos posted by the ED showed enormous piles of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 banknotes.

"The said amount is suspected to be proceeds of crime of the said SSC scam," the ED said in a statement.

The central agency also claimed that the money that was seized from Mukherjee's house was found inside envelopes with 'minister in charge, Dept of Higher Education, West Bengal' embossed on them.

Jewellery worth more than Rs 50 lakh, foreign currency worth Rs 54 lakh, and 22 mobile phones were also recovered.

Meanwhile, her lawyer said that he had sought an arrest memo and seizure list from the ED, but the agency had refused, ANI reported.

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'Picture Abhi Baaki Hai': BJP's Suvendu Adhikari

Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Suvendu Adhikari hit out at the TMC over the findings of the raids, saying, "Picture abhi baki hai (there is more to come)."

"'Guilty by Association' – A legal phenomenon used to describe when an individual is guilty of committing a crime through knowing someone else. Just saying. Yeh toh bas trailer hai, picture abhi baki hai..." Adhikari wrote in a tweet.

"Sources claim that piles of cash were found inside WB Govt Education Ministry envelopes with National Emblem printed on them," the BJP leader claimed in another tweet.

"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 said on Friday.

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'Raids a Ploy of BJP To Harass & Intimidate Our Leaders': TMC

Minister of State for Education Paresh C Adhikary alleged that he hadn't been informed about the visit of the ED.

"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.

Meanwhile, TMC leader Madan Mitra described the raids by the probe agency as "unnecessary."

"I've been called by CBI, ED not less than 100 times. Partha Chatterjee (former Education Minister) is a very responsible & known politician of West Bengal... It (ED reaching his residence) was not needed, he was not absconding," he told news agency ANI.

The TMC has also called the concerted raids as a "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.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)

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