The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday demanded the arrest of Goa Education Minister Babush Monsserrate, who, it said, was allowed to take out a large amount of foreign exchange and Indian currency while travelling to Dubai on April 2, despite interception by the Customs in Mumbai.

At a news conference here, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar alleged that the Minister, against whom 10 criminal cases are pending, was let off by customs authorities on Union Finance Ministry `intervention'.

The Minister had been detained for 18 hours by the Customs for carrying crores in cash and traveller's cheques, Mr. Javadekar said and wanted to know who from the Finance Ministry pressured the Customs at Mumbai to let him go.

By his own admission, the Minister was carrying cash and cheques worth Rs. 23 lakh, Mr. Javadekar said and quoted unnamed sources in the Customs as saying the operation could be part of a large hawala network.

The BJP wanted to know why Mr. Monsserrate's son Rohit, who was chargesheeted in the case of rape of a German girl, and his two colleagues, who were accompanying the Minister, were allowed to proceed to Dubai without baggage check.

“It is curious that the Minister has not been booked under the FEMA, there is no action by the ED and the RBI. It is also not clear whether he has taken permission from the Ministry of External Affairs and secured FCRA clearance for foreign travel. For the last three days Assembly proceedings have been hit but the State and Central governments are busy in a cover-up operation,” Mr. Javadekar charged.