Mamata Banerjee removes arrested Bengal minister Jyotipriya Mallick from cabinet | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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Mamata Banerjee removes arrested Bengal minister Jyotipriya Mallick from cabinet

Feb 17, 2024 11:21 AM IST

Jyotipriya Mallick is the second senior cabinet minister to be removed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee from the government following probe by federal agencies

West Bengal forest and industrial reconstruction minister Jyotipriya Mallick, who is in judicial custody in the public distribution system (PDS) scam, was removed from the government on Friday evening, Trinamool Congress leaders said.

Jyotipriya Mallick was arrested by ED in the PDS scam case on October 27 last year and he is in judicial custody now. (File)
Jyotipriya Mallick was arrested by ED in the PDS scam case on October 27 last year and he is in judicial custody now. (File)

Mallick was arrested in this case on October 27 last year by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

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On January 20, ED told a Kolkata court that the scam, in which subsidised food grains meant for the PDS system were siphoned to the open market for sale, involves around 20,000 crore. It took place when Mallick was West Bengal’s food minister between 2011 (when the TMC came to power for the first time) and 2021.

TMC leaders said irrigation and waterways minister Partha Bhowmick has been given additional charge of the industrial reconstruction department while deputy forest minister Birbaha Hansda will be handling the forest department as cabinet minister from now on.

“Chief minister Mamata Banerjee took the decision and discussed the matter with governor C V Ananda Bose who announced the cabinet reshuffle on Friday,” a senior TMC leader said on condition of anonymity.

Mallick is the second senior cabinet minister to be removed from the government following probe by federal agencies.

ED arrested former education minister Partha Chatterjee and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee in July 2022 in the bribe-for-job scam. In its first charge sheet filed in September 2022, ED said it traced cash, jewellery and immovable property worth 103.10 crore linked to the duo.

The chief minister removed Chatterjee from the government and also suspended him from TMC days after his arrest. Chatterjee and Mukherjee have not been granted bail since then.

In the PDS scam, ED filed its first chargesheet on December 12 last year under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) naming Mallick, rice mill owner and hotelier Bakibur Rahaman and 10 shell companies.

On January 17, the Calcutta high court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and West Bengal police to trace Sheikh Shahjahan, a TMC heavyweight from North 24 Parganas district’s Sandeshkhali who allegedly masterminded the January 5 attack on ED officials during a raid at his residence in connection with the PDS scam.

Shahjahan could not be traced till Friday even as Sandeshkhali remained on the boil following protests by local women who have accused the TMC leader and his associates of corruption and exploitation.

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