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20 Crores cash, gold bars seized from 2nd home of Bengal Minister’s aide

New Delhi: At least ₹ 20 crore in cash and gold jewelry and bars have been recovered from another house of Arpita Mukherjee — close aide of Bengal’s arrested minister Partha Chatterjee — days after a huge pile of notes was found in one room of one of her houses, according to sources in the Enforcement Directorate.

This time, officials found the notes from a shelf at one of her apartments in Belgharia, located in the northern fringes of the city, sources said. Bank officials are still counting the cash at the spot with note counting machines.

Sources say the ED also found more documents today that are being examined. During last week’s raid, the officials have recovered a diary with around 40 pages of notes that could provide crucial leads in the investigation. The ED has also recovered several deeds of properties that could implicate Partha Chatterjee.

The ED officials had raided the house as part of their investigations. During questioning, Arpita Mukherjee has given information about all her properties. She has a couple of flats at Belgharia and another one at Rajdanga (in the southern part of the city).

The officials had to break open the main door of the flat as the keys could not be found, reported Press Trust of India.

Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee were arrested on Saturday — a day after ₹ 20 crore was discovered. Arrested in connection with an alleged money laundering case linked to the teacher recruitment scam, Partha Chatterjee will be in the custody of the investigating agency till August 3.

Arpita Mukherjee has reportedly told investigators that the money was kickback from the state’s massive teacher recruitment scam. She also said that only Partha Chatterjee and his men had access to the room where the cash was kept. They used to come once every 10 days.

“Partha used my house and that of another woman as a mini-bank. That other woman is also his close friend,” Arpita Mukherjee reportedly told investigators.

Partha Chatterjee — the senior-most minister in Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet and her close aide — has been accused of having a role in allegedly illegal appointments of school teachers and staff in government-run schools when he was Education Minister.

Asked today whether he would step down from his post, Mr Chatterjee, visibly irritated, shot back “What is the reason (to tender the resignation)?”

Bengal’s Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari — once a close aide of Mamata Banerjee — has questioned why Partha Chatterjee is being retained as a minister despite his arrest. Mr Adhikari has met Governor La Ganesan at the Raj Bhavan and sought that Mr Chatterjee, who holds the industry, commerce and parliamentary affairs portfolios, be removed as minister.

“She (the Chief Minister) has not taken any step against him despite so much information and proof,” Mr Adhikari was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. It is “her strategy to show that she is good and others are not”, he added.