Kolkata: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested West Bengal Forest Minister Jyotipriya Mallick on Friday, October 27, in connection with a ration scam case. Mallick, who was earlier the Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Department, is accused of being involved in large-scale corruption and irregularities in the public distribution system during the Corona lockdown.
According to ED sources, Mallick’s arrest came after a long search operation at his house and seven other locations on Thursday, October 26. The ED team reached Mallick’s house around 8 a.m. and continued the raid till 4 a.m. on Friday. Mallick was then taken into custody and questioned by the ED officials.
Mallick, however, denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he was the victim of a conspiracy. He told the media after his arrest that he had nothing to do with the ration scam and that he was ready to cooperate with the investigation.
The ED’s action against Mallick was based on the revelations made by businessman Bakibur Rehman, who was arrested by the agency last week. Rehman, who owns several rice mills, hotels, resorts, and bars, was found to have more than 100 documents bearing the stamps of government offices in his flat in Kaikhali. The ED had raided his flat for more than 53 hours and seized several incriminating evidence.
Rehman is alleged to have invested more than Rs 50 crore in his companies from the money earned through the ration scam. He is also said to have a close relationship with Mallick and his business interests. During the interrogation, Rehman had hinted at Mallick’s involvement in the scam and named him as one of the beneficiaries.
This is the first time that a minister of the Mamata Banerjee-led government has been arrested by the ED in a corruption case. The ED is likely to seek Mallick’s remand for further interrogation and probe his role in the scam. The ED is also expected to summon other officials and politicians who are suspected to be involved in the scam.