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ED arrests Bengal minister Jyotipriyo Mallick in money laundering case

ED arrests Bengal minister Jyotipriyo Mallick in money laundering case
The Enforcement Directorate has arrested West Bengal minister Jyotipriyo Mallick in a money laundering case linked to an alleged multi-core ration distribution scam in the state, official sources said on Friday. The minister was apprehended under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the early hours of Friday following over 17-18 hours of questioning, they said.

ED officials said Mallick was taken from his home in Salt Lake area on the outskirts of Kolkata to the central agency's office here around 3.30 am.

He will be produced before a local court where the ED will seek his custody, they said.

"I am a victim of a great conspiracy," the TMC minister said after being arrested by ED in connection with the alleged ration distribution scam.

Mallick also alleged that the conspiracy was hatched by the BJP and its leader Suvendu Adhikari, a former colleague in the TMC party.

The ED had earlier arrested a confidant of the minister Bakibur Rahman whose remand is ending this week.

Sources said that the central agency may seek to confront the two with each other's version of events in the case.

The agency had launched searches at Mallick's premises on Thursday.

It also searched his ancestral house on Amherst Street in central Kolkata. The alleged scam pertains to reported irregularities in the public distribution system and in the distribution of food grains during the Covid lockdowns.

Earlier on Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened to file a police complaint if anything happened to Mallick during the questioning as he was unwell and had several medical ailments.

Banerjee also termed the raids by the ED against opposition leaders as "a dirty political game" by the BJP.

Trinamool Congress leader and state minister Shashi Panja also criticised the raids at Mallick's residences, asserting that "this is an attack on the culture of Bengal at the time of 'Bijoya Dasami' and is nothing but vendetta politics".

In response to the arrest of the state minister, the BJP said it was "expected" considering the pace of the investigation in the case.

BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, "The arrest was anticipated after the revelations made by one of his associates, who was apprehended a few days ago. It has once again been proven that the TMC is deeply mired in corruption."

In the past one year, two other MLAs and TMC Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal have been arrested in connection with school job scams and cattle smuggling cases by central agencies.

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