ED granted 14-day custody of TMC MLA in teachers' recruitment case
The ED arrested TMC MLA Manik Bhattacharya in the early hours of Tuesday after night-long interrogation in connection with alleged irregularities in recruitment of teachers in state-run primary schools, officials said.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Manik Bhattacharya in the early hours of Tuesday after night-long interrogation in connection with alleged irregularities in recruitment of teachers in state-run primary schools, officials said.
Bhattacharya was the chairman of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education in 2014 and the alleged irregularities in recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in government schools is believed to have taken place between 2014 and 2017.
“The legislator from Palashipara in Nadia district was sent to 14-day ED custody by Bankshall court later in the day,” an ED official said.
The ED is investigating a purported teachers’ recruitment scam in the state.
Bhattacharya is the second TMC leader to have been arrested in the case.
On July 23, former state education minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested after 27 hours of interrogation in the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment (for classes IX-XII) scam, in which the ED has thus far recovered cash worth around ₹50 crore.
Chatterjee was the state education minister when the purported scam took place.
Chatterjee’s aide, Arpita Mukherjee, from whose two flats ₹21.9 crore in cash was seized during a raid on the same day, was also arrested. The duo are currently in custody.
Before his arrest, Bhattacharya was interrogated for more than 11 hours on Monday. He was removed as chairman of West Bengal Board of Primary Education by Calcutta high court in June.
A few persons gathered at the Bankshall court were seen showing slippers and chanting ‘chor chor’ slogans as Bhattacharya was brought to the premises.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is conducting a parallel probe into the case on the directions of the high court.
Last month, Bhattacharya had moved the Supreme Court seeking protection after a single-judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay in the high court directed him to appear before the CBI for a probe.
On September 30, the apex court granted Bhattacharya protection from arrest by the central agency till further orders.
A senior ED official pointed out that the top court’s relief to the TMC leader was in the CBI case.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) over the arrest.
“This was bound to happen. He (Bhattacharya) knew that he would be arrested by the CBI and that’s why he had moved the Supreme Court. There has been a huge amount of corruption and people have been cheated. Whosoever is involved should be punished. This is just the beginning,” BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh said.
The TMC hoped the ED will probe the case “impartially”,
“The TMC has nothing to say as far as Bhattacharya’s arrest is concerned as the case is under investigation. The guilty should be punished as per law. We hope the ED will probe impartially and will not act as a wing of any political party,” party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.