West Bengal MLA Manik Bhattacharya second TMC member to be arrested in 'SSC scam'

Manik Bhattacharya was arrested by the ED on Tuesday on charges of being 'non-cooperative' with regard to its ongoing investigation into the alleged WBSSC Recruitment Scam

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Amarabati Bhattacharyya

Trinamool Congress MLA and former chairperson of West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE), Manik Bhattacharya was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday on charges of being 'non-cooperative' with regard to the ongoing investigation into the alleged West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) Recruitment Scam.

Bhattacharya, MLA from Palashipara in Nadia district, was sent to 14-day custody by a special PMLA court after being interrogated for 15 hours.

The ED has alleged that he was involved in the “irregularities” in the so-called teacher’s recruitment scam and claimed that he dodged continued summons from the ED over a few months.  

The MLA had initially refused to sign the arrest memo, claiming that he had received interim “protection” from the Supreme Court from being arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI); he had undergone interrogation by the CBI last month. 

The ED, along with the CBI, is currently probing the alleged multi-crore money laundering scam around the recruitment of teachers for state-sponsored schools in West Bengal as ordered by the Calcutta High Court.

The scam, allegedly helmed by the former West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, revolves around recruiting teachers in exchange for money, which had incited widespread protests by candidates who appeared for the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) in June this year.

Following Bhattacharya’s arrest on Tuesday, several aspirants and teachers took to the streets in protest against the alleged scam, terming TMC’s affiliates as “thieves”.

“Getting a government job for a teacher has perennially been close to unachievable here, these scammers have truly shown us why,” alleged an aspirant who appeared for the West Bengal TET exam last year and was unsuccessful in securing any seats despite it being her third attempt.

The ED released a chargesheet against Chatterjee in July wherein he was accused of having laundered Rs 75 crores concealed under the name of his associate, Arpita Mukherjee. Bhattacharya also featured in the chargesheet and was accused of laundering approximately Rs 2.64 crore from 530 B.ED training colleges and other illegal activities including distributing state jobs arbitrarily.

The claims that Bhattacharya was involved in an 'education extortion racket' over 11 years and an SSC scam that has gone unnoticed since 2014.

He is the second TMC member to be arrested since Chatterjee’s arrest in July. 

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