KOLKATA: A purported “recommendation letter” from former Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee endorsing his “close family friend” Arpita Mukherjee’s wish to adopt a child is part of the Enforcement Directorate‘s 172-page first chargesheet in the jobs-for-cash case. The agency has presented this as part of the evidence that it claims establishes a strong connection between the duo, arrested within hours of each other on July 23, five months after Arpita filed an adoption plea.
Chatterjee had told ED officials that he wrote the February 22 letter in his then capacity as a “public servant”, seeking to reaffirm that Arpita was just another acquaintance. The ED’s chargesheet mentions that Chatterjee took Arpita along with him during a visit to Phuket in Thailand. He also paid for the travel expenses of Snehamy Datta, another accused in the case, the agency said. Chatterjee was in Thailand as a guest of the Thailand HR Association in 2014-15. While he denied making any such trip, Datta corroborated it during questioning. The ED chargesheet refers to a property in Thailand that the suspended Trinamool veteran, once counted among CM Mamata Banerjee’s most trusted lieutenants, allegedly bought with Arpita “on a 50:50 partnership basis”.
Investigators have also come across 31 LIC policies in Arpita’s name, with a total monthly premium of Rs 1.5 crore. Chatterjee used to pay the premium, based on his bank statements, the ED said. The chargesheet also mentions Arpita’s sister Sangita Mukherjee, who was employed as a peon in the higher education department before being appointed Chatterjee’s attendant in his office.
ED officials said they had got hold of transcripts of WhatsApp chats between Chatterjee and former West Bengal Board of Primary Education chairman Manik Bhattacharya about allegedly illegal appointments. This was after Chatterjee denied any knowledge of such hirings.
In one of the purportedly incriminating chats found on Chatterjee’s mobile phone, someone sent a message to him complaining that Bhattacharya had been demanding money for the Nadia TET interview. Bhattacharya visited Chatterjee’s residence in Kolkata’s Naktala on December 29, 2020, days after the message was sent, the ED pointed out.