ED arrests TMC youth wing leader in West Bengal school recruitment scam | Kolkata

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday arrested a youth wing leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore recruitment scam in West Bengal.

Kuntal Ghosh, secretary of the TMC’s youth wing, was arrested following a raid by the probe agency at his house in Kolkata.

“He will be produced in the court on Saturday,” said an official.

Ghosh was earlier questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) three times after his name appeared during the probe.

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Tapas Mandal, a TMC member and another accused in the school recruitment scam, reportedly named Ghosh and another TMC leader Santanu Banerjee in the alleged scam and told the CBI that Ghosh collected money from job seekers to the tune of 19.4 crores.

Speaking to reporters after his arrest, Kuntal Ghosh said his arrest was “the result of Mandal’s conspiracy”.

“This is Mandal’s conspiracy. He had demanded money from me. I refused to pay him and that’s why I have been framed,” Ghosh said.

Responding to Ghosh’s accusations, Mandal said, “Why should I demand money from Ghosh? He collected huge amounts of money from job aspirants. I urged him to return the money as many didn’t get jobs even after paying.”

Mandal was president of the association of Bengal’s 625 private-run Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed) colleges and institutions till he was named in ED’s second chargesheet in the case in December last year . ED accused him of money laundering.

He was also known to be a close associate of TMC legislator Manik Bhattacharya.

Both Bhattacharya and former state education minister Partha Chatterjee were arrested by the ED in connection with the scam last year. They are both in custody at present.

In May last year, the Calcutta high court directed CBI to probe the appointment of non-teaching staff (groups C and D) and teaching staff by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) and West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) between the 2014 and 2021. The appointees allegedly paid bribes in the range of 5 to 15 lakh for jobs after failing the selection tests.

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attacking TMC after Ghosh’s arrest, BJP legislator and leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly Suvendu Adhikari said,

“They should be kept in jails outside West Bengal (during questioning). Only then will they open up to interrogation. They have been briefed on what to say and what not to say during questioning. They get all facilities like warm water, bed and mobile phone inside the jails in West Bengal.”

Meanwhile, TMC MP Shantanu Sen criticized the arrest of the party’s youth wing leader and said, “We have serious questions about the ED’s conviction rate and the central agency’s unbiased stand.”

“We all want the probe to come to an end and the guilty to be punished. We have zero tolerance for corruption. We also want a probe against BJP leaders against whom allegations have surfaced in the past but the central agencies have not taken any steps,” he added.

The CBI and the ED have been carrying out a probe into the Bengal recruitment case for months now. Over 100 crores were allegedly raised by the leaders of the ruling party in Bengal from job aspirants to employ them as teachers and staff at state-run schools across the state between 2014 and 2021.

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