KOLKATA: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested West Bengal minister Jyotipriyo Mallick in a money laundering case linked to an alleged multi-core ration distribution scam in the state, official sources said on Friday. The minister was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the early hours of Friday which weas subsequently followed by 17-18 hours of questioning, they said.
The ED officials said that Mallick was nabbed from his home in the Salt Lake area on the outskirts of Kolkata and was taken to the central agency’s office agency at around 3:30 am. He will be thereby produced before a local court where ED will seek his custody, they said. “I am a victim of a great conspiracy,” the TMC minister said after being arrested by ED in connection with the alleged ration distribution scam. Mallick also alleged that the conspiracy was hatched by the BJP and its leader Suvendu Adhikari, a former colleague in the TMC party.
The agency started with its probe on the premises of Mallick on Thursday. It also searched his ancestral house which is situated in Amherst Street in central Kolkata. The alleged scam is related to certain irregularities in the public distribution system and also in the distribution of the food grains during the period of pandemic.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened to file a police complaint if anything happened to Mallick during the questioning as he was unwell and had several medical ailments. Banerjee also termed the raids by the ED against opposition leaders as “a dirty political game” by the BJP leaders. Trinamool Congress leader and the state minister, Shashi Panja also criticised the raids carried on Mallick’s residence by stating: “this is an attack on the culture of Bengal at the time of ‘Bijoya Dasami’ and is nothing but vendetta politics.” BJP state spokesperson, Samik Bhattacharya said: “The arrest was anticipated after the revelations made by one of his associates, who was apprehended a few days ago. It has once again been proven that the TMC is deeply mired in corruption.”