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Kolkata, Oct 27: In a dramatic turn of events, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) apprehended West Bengal Forest Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Jyotipriya Mallick in the early hours of Friday from his Salt Lake residence. The arrest follows extensive questioning regarding his alleged involvement in a multi-crore ration distribution scam in the state.

Mallick, escorted to the CGO Complex initially, underwent a health check-up at the ESI Hospital before being slated for court appearance.

Facing the media post-arrest, Mallick declared, “I’m a victim of deep conspiracy.”

The ED had earlier executed raids at Mallick’s Salt Lake residence and his former private assistant’s houses in Nager Bazar, Dum Dum. The simultaneous raids were initiated subsequent to the arrest of businessman Bakibur Rahaman, allegedly linked to the minister.

Sources indicate that the ED is scrutinizing the money trail associated with the purported irregularities in ration distribution during the pandemic, a period when Mallick served as the State Food Supplies Minister.

The agency believes Bakibur Rahaman, with substantial business ventures in Bengal, Mumbai, and Dubai valued at nearly 100 crores, maintained ties with Minister Mallick during his tenure as the state food supplies minister in the previous Mamata Banerjee government. Following the 2021 assembly poll victory, Mallick transitioned to the Department of Forest Affairs and Non-Conventional and Renewable Energy sources.

Representing the Habra assembly segment in North 24 Parganas, Mallick is the latest high-profile TMC figure to face ED scrutiny, following the earlier raid on the residence of the current food minister, Rathin Ghosh.