Who is Arpita Mukherjee from whose flat ED seized ₹21 cr, gold worth ₹50 lakh?
Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials said that Arpita Mukherjee is a close associate of Bengal minister and TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday seized ₹21 crore from the flat of Arpita Mukherjee in south Kolkata. Sleuths suspect that this huge sum of money was the illegal proceeding of the recruitment scam which ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are probing.
But who is Arpita Mukherjee and what is her alleged involvement in the scam? ED officials said that Mukherjee is a close associate of Partha Chatterjee, West Bengal industries and commerce minister and the ruling Trinamool Congress’ state secretary general.
“TMC has nothing to do with the money seized by ED. The persons whose names have cropped up during the investigation will respond to this or their lawyers may respond. The party is keeping a watch as to why its name is being dragged. The party will respond at the right time,” tweeted Kunal Ghosh, TMC spokesperson.
Pictures that went viral, however, showed Arpita Mukherjee sharing the stage with TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Partha Chatterjee and Subrata Bakshi, TMC MP and the party’s state president, at a program organised in 2019 by a puja committee in south Kolkata patronised by Chatterjee.
While Chatterjee was arrested in the morning and was not available for his comment, TMC MP Santanu Sen said on Friday: “I don’t know any TMC worker or leader named Arpita Mukherjee.”
Mukherjee’s mother Minati Mukherjee and friends said that she was into modelling and came in touch with Chatterjee a few years back when she was engaged as a model by a local club in Chatterjee’s neighbourhood during puja.
“She used to be a model and over the last six to seven years she has opened 2-3 outlets dealing with nail art. While one is in north Kolkata, two are in south Kolkata. Maximum time she used to stay in her ancestral house. She sometimes used to visit her other flats. As far as I know, three to four years ago she got associated with a puja committee in south Kolkata and that is how she got in touch with the minister,” said Soumen Roy, a friend of Mukherjee, who knows her since 2002.
Her mother stays in their ancestral house at Belgharia in North 24 Parganas. She has another flat in a posh residential campus in Belgharia. One of her close friends said that she used to stay with her mother.
“She had come home 3-4 days back. She comes here frequently to take care of me. She was into modelling and used to take part in serials and films in Odisha. She was also associated with a production company,” said Minati Mukherjee, Arpita’s mother.
When asked whether she knows about the source of her huge amount of money, she replied in the negative.
“How do I get to know how and where did she get such a huge amount of money from. I came to know from the media. Also I came to know from media only that she was the face of a puja committee that was patronised by Partha Chatterjee,” she said.
ED officials said that they raided Mukherjee’s flat in a posh south Kolkata housing campus where she lives in a flat on the first floor. Heaps of money with denominations of ₹500 and ₹2,000 and bundles of cash in sealed envelopes were recovered from the flat.
“She was not cooperating and was either keeping silent or avoiding the questions posed to her about the source of money,” said an ED official.