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PoliticsIndiaHow much money did Partha Chatterjee loot?

How much money did Partha Chatterjee loot?

Even as the whole country discusses big-ticket corruption by functionaries of the Trinamool Congress government of West Bengal after Arpita Mukherjee's allegedly ill-gotten wealth has been found in her Club Town flat in Rathtala of Kolkata, details of the extent of graft were hard to come by until last night. According to sources in the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the agency brought a special teller machine to count the currency notes.

This money is believed to be part of the proceeds from the West Bengal SSC teachers' recruitment scam.

Ref: Bengal SSC teacher recruitment scam explained

How was the cash discovered? How much is it really?

While the nation was shaken by the news of more than Rs 20 crore in cash stashed at a house of the West Bengal minister's aide, now the cash recovered from different locations linked to Chatterjee is worth more than Rs 50 crore.

The mystery surrounding Arpita Mukherjee's Club Town apartment deepened with vague media reports for about a month while the ED was carrying out search operations at five locations. The investigators had already found a big stash of cash in one of the places, which was the Club Town flat in Rathtala. The investigators gathered a lot of information from this flat along with the money. 

The exact amount was not divulged initially. The ED officials brought a teller machine from a special bank to count the notes. This is the type of machine used usually in chest banks to count a lot of money in one go. 

Are the details of the ED raids out?

Yes. An ED team went to Arpita Mukherjee's Club Town flat in Rathtala last morning but found it locked. The broke the lock and entered the flat. Security at the residence was increased in the afternoon. Several other vehicles of ED officials followed in. 

The ED investigators went in three cars to Arpita Mukherjee's ancestral house in Dewan Para on Nawab Abdul Latif Street, Belgharia, too. The officials were greeted with an argument with the victim's mother who did not want to let the ED in. The tried to persuade the woman after which she relented.

Earlier, in the afternoon of 22 July, another ED team had seized all the cash, jewellery, mobile and foreign currency from Arpita Mukherjee's Diamond City South flat, which made national news when, the next day, former West Bengal Education Minister and current Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested. Arpita Mukherjee was too.

The second stash

The picture of cash recovered from Arpita Mukherjee's house went viral on social media. This picture went viral before the arrest of the minister and Arpita. Arpita reportedly told the ED that the entire amount was kept in a room in her house. Only Partha Chatterjee and his men were allowed to enter that room. Arpita says that once every week or every 10 days, Partha Chatterjee used to come to her house.

ED sources said Arpita told them that apart from her house, Partha Chatterjee used another woman's house as a "mini bank". The woman is also said to be close to Parth Chatterjee. Arpita told ED officials that Parth did not tell her how much money was kept in the room.

Mukherjee revealed that a Bengali actor introduced her to Parth Chatterjee in 2016 and since then the two became close to each other. During interrogation, Arpita admitted that this bribe was taken in lieu of transfer posting and getting admission to the college.

About Rs 29 crore in cash and 5 kg of gold jewellery were recovered from the second flat of Arpita Mukherjee in Kolkata. She said that Partha Chatterjee himself never brought any money. His assistants would bring the cash.

How is Partha Chatterjee involved?

West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee were in connection with the West Bengal SSC teachers' recruitment that is supposed to have fetched the duo this large sum of cash. The aide claimed that the minister was using her house as a "mini bank".

On finding over Rs 20 crore in cash, jewellery and foreign currency at the apartment in southwest Kolkata, the ED the minister and his aide. That was last week.

How come a small-time actress Arpita Mukherjee became so important in Partha Chatterjee's scheme of things?

Even when put mildly, the personal lives of several Trinamool Congress leaders defy acceptable social behaviour. The Mamata Banerjee government had faced embarrassment earlier for the former Mayor Sovan Chatterjee's love life. As for the Partha Chatterjee-Arpita Mukherjee affair, her career saw a meteoric rise in the past few years after she spent most of her childhood in a middle-class neighbourhood of Belgharia in North 24 Parganas and then moved to the posh Tollywood area in Kolkata and stayed in an apartment in Diamond City — an upscale highrise apartment complex in south Kolkata. 

In her social media profiles, Arpita Mukherjee claims to be an actor and model. Arpita started her career as a model back in 2004 and after a few years of struggle landed a small role in the Bengali film 'Mama Bhagne' in 2010 which had Bengali superstar Prasenjit Chatterjee playing the lead role. The following year she was part of a film called 'Bangla Bachao' which featured Paoli Dam, Prasenjit Chatterjee and others.

Arpita Mukherjee has acted in three films director and producer Anup Sengupta has produced. She has acted also in a few Tamil and Oriya films, claims her mother Minati who lives in Belgharia at the family house. The actress's father was a union government employee who died many years ago. She has an elder sister who is married. 

Arpita Mukherjee often accompanied Partha Chatterjee to several public and social events including the Durga Puja festivity of the Naktala area in Kolkata where Chatterjee is a patron. She featured on the puja's music album cover in 2021. She had campaigned for Chatterjee during the 2021 Bengal assembly election. A photo of hers in an open jeep beside Partha Chatterjee and first-time Trinamool Congress MLA Soham Chakraborty was widely shared on social media after her arrest.

What actions have been taken against Arpita Mukherjee?

A special ED court in Kolkata ordered Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee to be remanded in custody till 3 August. Around 11:15 PM, the ED reached the CGO complex with Mukherjee. Arrangements were made to keep her in a room in the ED office at night. However, Partha did not return to Kolkata that night. He spent the night at Bhubaneswar AIIMS Hospital. He was brought to Kolkata the next morning. The minister of state was kept in a separate room that served as a temporary lockup on the eighth floor of the CGO complex, instead of being kept in a police station lockup.

It is learned that Arpita's lawyers will reject the ED's accusations in the next hearing. They have condemned the agency for leaking information about their investigation to the media. The defence lawyers dispute the low conviction rate in cases registered by the ED.

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Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasguptahttp://''
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life, the first national affairs editor of Swarajya, executive editor of Hindusthan Samachar and desk head of MyNation

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