On Friday morning, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids at the residences of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sujit Bose, TMC MLA Tapas Roy and former North Dumdum Municipality chairman Subodh Chakraborty in connection with its probe into irregularities in recruitments in civic bodies.
Accompanied by central forces, ED officers conducted raids at two residences of Bose in the Lake Town area of the North 24 Parganas district early Friday morning, he said.
The central agency officers also raided Tapas Roy’s BB Ganguly Street residence and Chakraborty’s residence in Birati, he said.
”We are conducting search operations at the residences of three TMC leaders in connection with the recruitment of civic bodies. We are also talking to the leaders,” the officer told PTI.
Police personnel from local police stations reached the respective places and cordoned off the entire area.
The ED officers initially faced resistance in entering Bose’s residence, but after around 40 minutes, they were allowed inside, the source said.
”We are carrying a search warrant and despite showing that we were initially not allowed to enter,” the officer said.
The central forces were seen equipped with extra protection gear like helmets and automatic guns, which an ED officer said was done keeping in mind the assault on them last week during the raid at Sandeshkhali.
On January 5, three Enforcement Department (ED) officers were assaulted and their vehicles damaged allegedly by supporters of TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh when they tried to raid his residence at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district in connection with their probe into the ration distribution scam.
The TMC denounced the coordinated searches at the homes of several party leaders for their alleged involvement in irregularities in municipal recruitment in West Bengal, characterising it as ”vendetta politics and a desperate manoeuvre” by the BJP to create a narrative ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Senior TMC leader Kunal Ghosh asserted, ”This is an attempt to divert the public and media’s attention from various burning issues. The BJP appears to be sensing growing public discontent, and they are using every means at their disposal to change the narrative. This is a clear example of vendetta politics.” Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Industry Minister Shashi Panja hit out at the central government, alleging that the central probe agencies were used as a tool to harass leaders of opposition parties.
”It’s crystal clear that the central government is using the central investigating agencies as a tool to harass opposition leaders,” she said.
However, the West Bengal BJP dismissed the allegations as baseless.
BJP leader Rahul Sinha stated, ”Whenever the ED or CBI raid TMC leaders, they cry foul and accuse it of being politically motivated. Yet, the reality is that the TMC is deeply mired in corruption, with nearly every leader facing corruption allegations.” BJP MP Dilip Ghosh also reacted to the ED’s raids at the houses of the state minister and TMC leaders and said that it was just the onset of ‘Khela Hobe’.
”We have been hearing about ‘Khela Hobe’ (the game is on). The real ‘Khela Hobe’ has started now. Those who have been playing will not be spared,” Ghosh said.
Recently, the central agencies also conducted searches at various locations, including the residences of Food and Supplies Minister Rathin Ghosh and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, in connection with the recruitment in municipalities.