Bengal Minister Jyotipriya Mallick arrested by ED in “ration scam’

Kolkata, Oct 27 (UNI) West Bengal Forest Minister Jyotipriya Mallick was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the early hours of Friday from his residence after a marathon 23-hour grilling in connection with an alleged multi-crore rupee ration distribution scam in the state.

The senior Trinamool Congress leader, who served as the state’s Minister for Food and Supplies during the first two terms of the Mamata Banerjee-led government from 2011-2021, was later in the day remanded to 10-day rpt 10-day ED custody by the Bankshall Court. The ED counsel had sought 14 day’s custody to interrogate the minister..

Mallick, a long-time associate of the Chief Minister and one of the founding members of the party, will again be produced in the court on November 6.

After the pronouncement of his custodial remand, Mallick sat down and lost his consciousness.

According to Mallick’s counsel, he will be taken to Command Hospital in South Kolkata and be allowed to take homemade food.

It is learned that the MLA from Habra is a diabetic and has kidney-related problems.

The ED sleuths arrested Mallick after quizzing him at his Salt Lake residence since 6 AM on Thursday and finally took him to the agency’s office at the CGO Complex around 3-20 AM.

Mallick was arrested by the ED for his “non-cooperation” in the process of Investigation related to alleged irregularities in the distribution of statuary ration during the pandemic period.

Soon after his arrest, Mallick accused the BJP and Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari of “orchestrating a conspiracy”. “I am a victim of deep conspiracy,” he said, as the ED officials led him out of his residence.

The ED has appointed as its counsel Firoz Edulji, who had appeared during the arrest of high-profile minister Partha Chatterjee in the alleged cash-for-jobs scam last year.

Sources said raids were conducted simultaneously in two flats of Mallick in the Salt Lake (Kolkata) area, and two flats and a house of his close aide Amit Dey. Raids were conducted in three other places too.

The sources claimed the ED, probing the money trails of the alleged irregularities in the statutory ration distribution system, has obtained information that businessman Bakibur Rahaman, arrested earlier in the case, has huge businesses in Bengal, Mumbai and even in Dubai worth nearly 100 crores of rupees.

According to the sources, Bakibur had rapport with minister Mallick during the latter’s tenure as the state food supplies minister.

After the Trinamool retained power by winning the 2021 assembly poll, Mallick was shifted to the Department of Forest Affairs and also handed the portfolio of Non-Conventional and Renewable Energy Sources.

The ED had a few months ago raided the residence of current food minister Rathin Ghosh.

On Thursday, the West Bengal Chief Minister described the ED raid at Mallick’s house as the BJP’s “abuse of power to muzzle any opposition to their authoritarian rule”.

On the other hand, State Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari on Friday demanded a probe into the role of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the alleged ration distribution scam.

Adhikari said, “I would urge the Ed to probe the role of Mamata Banerjee in the huge WB Ration Distribution Scam. ”

“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee didn’t appoint Jyotipriya Mallick as the Minister in Charge of the Food & Supplies Department; Govt of WB, in 2021 as she wanted to save him from the glare of Central Investigation Agencies, after engaging in mountainous corruption for a decade as the Food & Supplies Minister from 2011 to 2021, ” he commented.

“However, she wanted him to keep raising funds illegally and hand over the share of the proceeds to the intended persons. So as a way out she appointed him as the Chairman of the West Bengal Essential Commodities Supply Corporation (WBECSC); the company which is entrusted with the procurement & distribution of paddy & other food grains in WB, ” the BJP MLA from Nandigram added.

“She didn’t stop at this only. To ensure that siphoning of funds is done smoothly and efficiently, she appointed A.Subbiah; a retired IAS officer, as the MD of the West Bengal Essential Commodities Supply Corporation (WBECSC) to facilitate Jyotipriya Mallick,” he mentioned.

State BJP President Sukanta Majumdar said: “The Kingpin of the Ration Scam has finally been caught… The Truth will always prevail…”

West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the alleged irregularities in the PDS constituted a big scandal and it was an “organised loot” that affected the poor people across the state.

Chowdhury claimed the good quality rice from FCI was sold to the market and stale rice was given in the PDS.

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