The central investigative agencies probing the coal pilferage scam in West Bengal have quickened their pace in the investigation. Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday served notice to West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and Trinamool Congress MLA Sushanta Mahato to join the probe in Delhi on Friday. On Monday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested seven persons in connection with the scam. Those arrested include a serving and three retired general managers of State-run Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL). The others arrested are a manager and two security guards. The coal pilferage scam involves illegal mining at leasehold mines of Eastern Coalfields in Kunustoria and Kajora areas near Asansol in West Bengal.
Last month, both the ED and CBI questioned Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee. One of the prime accused in the scam Vinay Mishra, who was associated with the youth wing of Trinamool, has fled the country. While the CBI has announced an award of ₹1 lakh on information related to the absconding Trinamool leader, the ED has attached assets worth ₹9.28 crore belonging to Mishra, his family members and another accused Anup Majhi, under the anti-money laundering law. The agencies point out that Vinay Mishra had collected money on behalf of influential people. The agencies are also looking at funds deposited in foreign bank accounts.
CBI questions WB Education Secretary
In another development, the Principal Secretary of West Bengal Education Department, Manish Jain, appeared before the CBI in connection with an investigation into alleged illegal appointments by West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC). The Calcutta High Court had directed CBI to file FIRs in multiple cases to probe irregularities in the appointment of teachers and non-teaching staff in State-run schools by WBSSC. Officials of the WBSSC, West Bengal Primary Education Council along with the Education Department are under the scanner in the scam. Questions have also been raised over the role of ministers responsible for the department.