Arrested West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee has been “non-cooperating" with sleuths of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as he has “not replied" to most of their questions in connection with the probe into a school job scam, an officer of the central agency said on Monday. The suspended Trinamool Congress leader has “remained silent most of the time" during the questioning about a conspiracy that he referred to while speaking to journalists at ESI Hospital at Joka where he was taken for a medical check up, the ED official said. Chatterjee had on Friday asserted that he was a “victim of a conspiracy" and expressed unhappiness over TMC’s decision to suspend him.
“He has been non-cooperating with us since he was arrested. He is often complaining of tiredness and avoiding our questions. We have asked Chatterjee about his claims that the money does not belong to him So, we are looking for the source of the money," the ED official told PTI. Chatterjee, who is at the centre of a multi-crore school job scam, on Sunday claimed that the money recovered during ED raids does not belong to him, and only time will tell who all have “conspired" against him.
Nearly Rs 50 crore in cash along with gold were recovered from apartments linked to Arpita Mukherjee, one of Chatterjee’s close aides, as per the official of the central agency. During the interrogation, Mukherjee also claimed that the huge amount of cash and pieces of jewellery recovered from two of her flats “were not hers". The agency sleuths conducted another round of search operations at her flat in the northern part of the city on Monday evening, the ED official said. They also collected CCTV footage of her high-end apartment “to find out who used to visit there", he said.
In fact, the ED officials on Monday summoned the secretary of the dwellers’ association of the housing complex in Belghoria where the woman has two flats, he said. Meanwhile, the ED has also started looking for a GST number that is found in her possession. “She has used one GST number for running a business of beauty parlour, but there is another such number which is not linked to any business. We are trying to find out whether this one was generated in an illegal manner to evade tax," he said. The central agency is planning to interrogate Chatterjee and his close aide together on Tuesday, the official claimed. The ED on July 23 arrested Chatterjee in connection with its investigation into the alleged irregularities in the school job scam. Chatterjee had held the education portfolio when the scam was allegedly pulled off. The ED is looking into the money trail involved in the scam.
Another central agency CBI, as directed by Calcutta High Court, is probing the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group-C and -D staff, as well as teachers in government-sponsored and -aided schools, on the recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission.