Kolkata: Paresh Adhikary, minister of state for education, today faced CBI interrogation for the first time in the SSC scam. Kolkata High Court had earlier ordered an inquiry into the illegal teacher recruitment case for classes 11th and 12th.
It was alleged that Ankita Adhikary, Paresh Adhikary's daughter, was appointed a school teacher in Coochbihar without ever appearing for the SSC exam.
Former minister of education, Partha Chatterjee, one of the senior-most members of Mamata Banerjee's government at the time, also appeared for CBI interrogation for certain irregularities during his tenure. Interestingly, lawyers aligned with Trinamool Congress (TMC) had created an uproar in the high court to pressure judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay into relieving Chaterjee's case.
Despite that, Chatterjee didn't get a favourable verdict from the judge and appealed to the division bench, which upheld the original judgement. CBI interrogated Chaterjee for five hours, with High Court putting aside constitutional safeguards needed before arresting a minister.
Paresh Adhikary's scenario doesn't seem as bad as Chaterjee's. As per sources, he told the CBI team that he wasn't a minister when his daughter was given an arbitrary entry into the SSC merit list.
In a separate case, the High Court expelled Ankita Adhikary from her service and directed her to return the salaries she earned for the last 41 months.
Paresh Adhikary's statement has increased Chaterjee's problems. CBI has registered at least two FIRs in the case. Along with Chaterjee, SSC advisor Shanti Prasad Sinha has also been named.
During the interrogation, CBI probed Chatterjee over the constitution of the Appointment Vigil Committee. Chatterjee told the investigative agency that only those who were appointed as teachers could tell how they were selected. Following Chaterjee's interrogation, CBI could question other TMC leaders and ministers who have allegedly been instrumental in giving jobs bypassing the official appointment route.
As per reports, it has been alleged that the modus operandi of the whole process revolved around Sinha, who used to send false recommendation papers to SSC chairperson Kalyanmoy Ganguly. Ganguly was tasked with preparing false appointment letters to be sent to SSC head offices and then handed over to the candidates. Another person whose role has been highlighted is Samarjeet Acharya, tasked with scanning the false appointment letters.
CPIM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty has appealed to the accused leaders to admit the irregularities. Chakraborty has asked Chatterjee to come clean on who directed him to commit irregularities in the merit list.
PROTESTS AGAINST THE SSC SCAM
Given the interrogations, CPIM has called for stringent protests across the state against the malpractices, corruption and nepotism in the SSC scam. In Behala, the Assembly seat of Chatterjee, a huge protest rally was organised. Similar protests were also seen in North Bengal's Siliguri. CPIM Darjeeling district secretary Saman Pathak, veteran CPIM leader Ashok Bhattacharya, CPIM state secretariat member Jibesh Sarkar and hundreds of party activists participated in the gathering. The leadership accused the TMC government of corruption and said that the scams aren't limited to SSC recruitment- they extend to state government, semi-government and other employments.
Student Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) demanded the arrest of both ministers accused in the SSC scam. Both the organisations protested in various regions, such as Burdwan East, Burdwan West, Bankura, Murshidabad, etc.