Seven days after an Enforcement Directorate team was assaulted in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali area when they went to conduct searches at the premises of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, the agency was back in action on Friday — with much more backup.
The ED raided the residences and offices of West Bengal minister Sujit Bose, TMC MLA Tapas Roy, and former chairman of the North Dum Dum municipality Subodh Chakraborty in connection with a municipal recruitment scam. This time, central forces accompanying the ED officials were seen donning helmets and body shields, and carrying teargas canisters. This is apart from their usual gear of batons and arms.
Both Bose and Roy have denied any connection with the alleged irregularities in the recruitment for municipalities.
Near Bose’s residence in Sreebhumi, central forces — including women personnel — conducted an area domination exercise once the ED officers were inside the house. They could be seen patrolling the street in front of the residence every hour, dispersing the crowd before it could swell.
On January 5, when an ED team went to conduct searches at the home of TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh in North 24 Parganas district, in connection with an alleged ration scam case, they were attacked by a mob of hundreds, who also manhandled accompanying CRPF personnel. Three ED officers had sustained serious injuries.
The extra precaution on Friday appeared to be in response to that attack. “Kuch hai kya? Kuch dikhana chah rahe ho yahan khade ho kar? Yahan se hato (Are you trying to prove something by standing here? Get away from here),” central force personnel could be seen tersely telling youths near Bose’s home.
Personnel of the West Bengal police were also seen in areas that were raided. Friday’s raids started at 6.30 am and focused on Bose’s two residences on the fringes of Kolkata; Roy’s apartment and office in Kolkata’s Bowbazar; and Chakraborty’s residence in Birati, North 24 Parganas.
It is alleged that hundreds of jobs — in Group C, Group D and other positions in municipalities — were given in exchange for money. Roy, the TMC deputy chief whip in the Assembly, is an MLA from Baranagar, which is one of the municipalities under the ED’s radar. Bose’s residence was raided in connection with alleged recruitment scams in North and South Dumdum municipalities.
“Seventy TMC leaders are involved in the recruitment scam. They should all start packing their bags and I advise them to take some warm clothes,” said Suvendu Adhikari, BJP MLA and Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly. “This should have been done long back. They (ED and central forces) should be stern and proactive. The ED should arrest the culprits. One must keep it in mind that it is a court-monitored probe,” said Congress MP and the party’s state unit chief Adhir Chowdhury.
Kunal Ghosh, the TMC state secretary and spokesperson, said, “Once again the ED is conducting raids here. This is happening through a script prepared by the BJP.”
ED officials and central forces left Bose’s residences at around 8 pm. The raid at Chakraborty’s residence lasted for around 12 hours. The raid at Roy’s apartment ended around 6.20 pm.