More Trouble For Mamata Banerjee? After School Recruitment Scam, ED Uncovers Job Scam In Civic Bodies
ED sources said that the agency has identified more ‘influential people’, most with strong links to the Trinamool Congress, who operated or benefited from the scam.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the money trail in the massive recruitment scam in Bengal’s government-run schools, has claimed it has uncovered another scam in recruitments to many civic bodies in the state.
ED sleuths chanced upon this scam while carrying out searches in the office and residence of a real estate developer, Ayan Sil, who is reportedly close to top Trinamool leaders.
The central agency told a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court Monday (20 March) that the searches on Sil’s residence and offices led them to a “gold mine”.
Lawyer Phiroze Edulji, representing the ED, told the court while pleading for Sil’s remand: “We have just entered the gold mine. We do not know how much gold is there”.
Edulji was referring to a large number of ‘incriminating documents’ seized from Sil’s office and residence during the ED searches.
These documents, claims the ED, point to serious irregularities in recruitment of clerks and other junior staff in many municipalities of North 24 Parganas in 2014 and 2015.
All these municipalities — Dum Dum, North Dum Dum, South Dum Dum, Panihati, Kamarhati, Baranagar and Halisahar — were (and still are) being controlled by the Trinamool at the time of the scam.
This is sure to spell more trouble for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. This scam can net another set of Trinamool leaders and functionaries and cause more damage to the party.
Edulji told the court: “We (the ED) are dumbfounded. We began the probe into school appointments. Now we find that such irregularities (similar to the cash-for-jobs scam in the school education department) happened in municipalities also for posts from typists to mazdoors (menial unskilled staff)”.
Sil’s company — Abs Infozon Pvt Ltd — was awarded the contract for printing, barcoding and evaluating optional mark recognition (OMR) sheets for recruitments to civic bodies.
Like in the case of recruitment to thousands of posts of teachers and non-teaching staff in the school education department, the OMR sheets were found to have been tampered with and the whole system rigged to favour undeserving candidates for recruitment to Trinamool-run municipalities as well.
The ED has seized 350 OMR sheets, some of them blank, pertaining to recruitments in civic bodies from Sil’s office and residence.
Sil is a close associate of Trinamool leader Kuntal Ghosh who was arrested by the ED in January this year for his involvement in the school recruitment scam. Ghosh, who was reportedly close to Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, was recently expelled from the party.
The ED suspects that Sil manipulated the OMR sheets of candidates for jobs in municipalities at the behest of Kuntal Ghosh.
Sil is also close to another expelled Trinamool leader Santanu Banerjee who was arrested by the ED earlier this month, for his involvement in the school recruitment scam. Banerjee was the karmadhyaksha of the Trinamool-run Hooghly Zilla Parishad.
The central agency has unearthed Banerjee’s ownership of properties and assets worth over Rs 400 crore so far. Banerjee’s only known source of income was his modest earnings of less than Rs five lakh a year from a state power utility.
ED sources said that the agency has identified more ‘influential people’, most with strong links to the Trinamool Congress, who operated or benefited from the scam. The ED will call them for interrogation soon.
The Calcutta High Court ordered probe into the school recruitment scam has so far netted senior minister and close Mamata aide Partha Chatterjee and his associate Aripta Mukherjee, Trinamool legislator Manik Bhattacharya and other Trinamool functionaries, as well as, people with close ties to top Trinamool leaders.
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