TMC youth leader among key suspects in Bengal school recruitment scam: ED
A raid at Ghosh’s residence yielded documents relating to the TET held in December last year, indicating that the racket was operating even after the Calcutta high court ordered the probe in May
Trinamool Congress (TMC) youth wing leader Kuntal Ghosh, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 21, is suspected to have been running a chain of middlemen who took bribes from people in exchange for jobs as teachers and staff at state-run schools across Bengal between 2014 and 2021, ED officials said on Wednesday.
According to ED, Ghosh illegally collected at least ₹30 crore from job seekers.
“Statements by Ghosh and evidence found during the investigation indicates that he and his associates hacked the website of the primary education department to issue certificates of the teacher eligibility test (TET) to those who failed in the examination,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
A raid at Ghosh’s residence yielded documents relating to the TET held in December last year, indicating that the racket was operating even after the Calcutta high court ordered the probe in May.
The ED also raided the residence of a second TMC youth leader, Shantanu Banerjee in connection with the alleged school recruitment case. He was questioned twice by the anti-money laundering probe agency.
The names of Ghosh and Banerjee were mentioned before the ED by Tapas Mondal, former president of the association of Bengal’s 625 private-run Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed) colleges. Mondal was named in the ED’s second charge sheet in this case in December last year.
During interrogation, Ghosh repeatedly accused a man named Gopal Dalapati of taking all the money he took from the job seekers, ED claims.
Dalapati, who was introduced to Ghosh by Mondal and is an accused in an old chit fund case, contacted the ED when he found his name appearing in media reports. He voluntarily went to the ED office in Kolkata on Tuesday.
“Ghosh is making false statements to save himself,” Dalapati told the media outside the ED office on Tuesday.
Mondal, who also visited the ED office on Tuesday, said: “Dalapati knew two or three job seekers. I introduced him to Ghosh. Ghosh was linked to our association because he owns a B.Ed college. He took ₹19.44 crore from 325 job-seekers from my institute. I have given documentary evidence to the Central Bureau of Investigation.”
In May 2022, Calcutta high court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the appointment of non-teaching staff (Group C and D) and teaching staff by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) and West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE). The appointees allegedly paid bribes in the range of ₹5-15 lakh to get jobs after failing the selection tests.
The ED, which is conducting a parallel probe, arrested education minister Partha Chatterjee and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee on July 23 last year. The ED’s charge sheet said the agency traced cash, jewellery and immovable property worth ₹103.10 crore linked to the duo.
The ED is probing whether the sum of more than ₹50 crore found at Mukherjee’s apartments were part of the bribe Ghosh and other people in the racket collected from job seekers.
TMC legislator and former president of the primary education board, Manik Bhattacharya, another suspected and alleged key player in the scam, was arrested by ED on October 11 last year.
Following his arrest, chief minister Mamata Banerjee removed Chatterjee from the government and suspended him from the party. The alleged scam took place during his tenure as education minister.
TMC youth wing state president Saayoni Ghosh said at a press conference on Monday that no youth wing leader would not be spared if their involvement is proven.