Irregularities in recruitment to Bengal’s civic bodies, 1 held: ED officials
According to the officials, upon raiding, bank transactions worth more than ₹50 crore, original OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheets, and a list of candidates’ names and documents related to appointments in multiple civic bodies across the state, were found from Ayan Sil’s office
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), while investigating the money laundering cases in the multi-crore recruitment scam in West Bengal schools, has claimed to have stumbled upon another possible scam involving irregularities in the recruitment of workers in civic bodies.
On Sunday, the federal agency arrested one Ayan Sil, a real estate developer and a close aide of former Trinamool Congress (TMC) youth wing leader Santanu Banerjee, who has already been arrested by the agency for his alleged role in the scam and is now in ED’s custody.
ED officials searched Sil’s office at FD block in Bidhannagar city for 36 hours since Saturday before arresting him.
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According to the officials, upon raiding, bank transactions worth more than ₹50 crore, original OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheets, and a list of candidates’ names and documents related to appointments in multiple civic bodies across the state, were found in his office. Some of the OMR sheets were related to the recruitment of labourers and typists.
“The investigation reveals that Sil was not only involved in the illegal collection of funds from the candidates for the TET [Teachers Eligibility Test] exam but was also running a well-oiled racket for giving jobs to ineligible candidates for various posts in municipalities by manipulating their OMR sheets in connivance with highly ranked officials and prominent persons,” the ED stated in its remand application while producing Sil in the court on Monday.
The ED also claimed that Sil collected huge amounts of money from candidates in the name of providing jobs to the post of teachers in TET 2012 and TET 2014 and he gave collected amounts to expelled TMC youth leader Kuntal Ghosh, who also is an accused in the recruitment scam and is under arrest, and other agents for getting them appointed through Partha Chatterjee, the then state education minister, who was arrested in July last year by ED.
Last week ED told the court that the volume of recruitment scam in West Bengal, in which multiple TMC leaders have been arrested, may run up to ₹350 crores.
“Every day new things are coming up. The volume could rise more. With Sil’s arrest we have entered a gold mine,” said an ED official.
ED counsel Phiroze Edulji told the court that the agency suspects there were irregularities in at least 5,000 jobs in 60 civic bodies and OMR sheets were manipulated to secure jobs for undeserving candidates.
Meanwhile, Sanjib Daw, who appeared for Sil, said, “The ED has found links of Kuntal Ghosh and Santanu Banerjee with the real estate firm of Sil. However, the firm ABS Infozen Pvt Limited of (Sil’s firm) was awarded the contract of printing OMR sheets for recruitment exams in civic bodies through tender. That’s why the ED found OMR sheets in his office.”
Also Read: WB recruitment scam: ED raids properties of expelled TMC leader Santanu Banerjee
In May 2022, Calcutta high court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the appointment of non-teaching staff (Group C and D) and teaching staff by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) and West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) between 2014 and 2021. The appointees allegedly paid bribes in the range of ₹5– ₹15 lakh to get jobs after failing the selection tests.
The ED arrested education minister Partha Chatterjee and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee on July 23 last year following which state chief minister Mamata Banerjee removed Chatterjee from the government and also suspended him from the party. The scam took place during Chatterjee’s tenure as education minister.