Indian politician arrested with loads of cash in house

Bengal minister's aide Arpita Mukherjee hid Rs50 crore in 2-bedroom apartment

By: News Desk
Published: 04:14 PM, 29 Jul, 2022
Indian politician arrested with loads of cash in house
Caption: Representational image.
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India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) found Rs50 crore in cash from two apartments of Arpita Mukherjee, a close aide of West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, over two days. Rs21.90 crore was found in the first apartment, which was raided last week, while Rs27.90 crore in cash was found at her other home Thursday night, Indian media reported on Friday.

Arpita’s apartment in Kolkata’s Belgachhia area, which was raided last evening, was being used to park cash which was supposed to be moved out soon, sources have told India Today TV.

The ED initially opened a cupboard where they found several big but inexpensive bags, the sources said. Inside them, they found several brick-like packets parcelled with brown tape.

What was inside stunned the officials. Hundreds of notes in Rs2,000 denominations popped out. There was Rs50 lakh in cash inside one packet.

The cash in the cupboard was packed and kept in a way that no one would ever suspect that these seemingly low-price and easily available bags could have crores in them, the sources said, adding that only a few people were allowed to enter the flat to bring in and move out the money.

“Notes of Rs2,000 were neatly packed in bundles of Rs50 lakh while the Rs500 denomination was stacked in bricks of 20 lakh,” sources in the financial probe agency told India Today TV.

Apart from the cash, gold jewellery and bricks, estimated to be around Rs4.31 crore, was also recovered by the agency from inside lockers of the cupboards. Three gold bricks weighing a kg each, six kangan (bracelets) weighing 500 grams each, and other gold jewellery were found, including a gold pen.

Officials reportedly had to break into the lockers to recover the gold.

When ED officials raided Arpita’s two-bedroom apartment last week in the upscale Tollygunge area, one room was locked. When they asked for the key, Arpita initially said the room had nothing inside, sources said.

Eventually, the room was opened. And inside, the ED found several packets and bags. A few of the packets were kept in a cupboard and the rest were in one corner of the room. The ED also got hold of an envelope from Bengal’s Education Ministry, with Rs5 lakh in cash. Partha Chatterjee was earlier the Minister-In-Charge of the state’s education department.

Unlike the Belgachia apartment, where money was found bundled and neatly stacked in packets, the Tollygunge flat had cupboards stashed with the cash. The room was dedicated to store just cash, sources said.

Arpita Mukherjee, after initially trying to mislead investigators, told ED officials that the cash was generated by her through her businesses. However, in the face of pressure from the agency, Mukherjee soon broke down and is reported to have confessed that the cash belonged to minister Partha Chatterjee.

As Partha Chatterjee and his close aide, Arpita Mukherjee, both tainted in the multi-crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) scam, were brought by the (ED) officials on Friday to the ESI Hospital in Kolkata for routine medical checkup, their reactions were noteworthy. While Chatterjee spoke of 'conspiracy', Mukherjee appeared devastated.

Of the two, Arpita Mukherjee was the first one to be brought to the hospital. She burst into tears as the ED vehicle carrying her reached the hospital premises. She even refused to come out of the vehicle and the female staff of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the accompanying central armed forces had to virtually drag her out and take her to the hospital building. A visibly devastated Arpita Mukherjee did not utter a single word to the waiting mediapersons.

Soon after she was taken inside the building, another vehicle of ED carrying Partha Chatterjee reached the hospital premises. But unlike Mukherjee, he did not resort to any emotional scene and while going into the hospital building on a wheelchair pushed by the ED staff, he just gave a one-liner to the media -- "I am a victim of conspiracy".

However, that one-liner was enough to provoke sharp reactions from the political circles.

Ridiculing Chatterjee's one-liner, state Trinamool Congress general secretary and party spokesman, Kunal Ghosh said that in such cases the natural reaction would have been -- "I am innocent".

"However, if Partha Chatterjee really thinks that he is a victim of conspiracy, he should prove that in the court, " Ghosh said.