Kolkata | Raids by Enforcement Directorate officials at the residences of West Bengal minister Jyotipriyo Mallick are still underway, over 13 hours after the searches began on Thursday.
The raids are in connection with an ongoing probe into the alleged multi-crore ration distribution scam, an officer said.
The ED sleuths raided two houses belonging to Mallick, the state's forest minister, at Kolkata's Salt Lake area, supported by a team of central forces, he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during a press conference in the afternoon, said Mallick was unwell, and threatened to file a police case against the BJP and ED if anything happened to the minister during the searches at his residences.
Banerjee also termed the raids by the ED against opposition leaders as a dirty political game by the BJP.
The scam pertains to alleged irregularities in the public distribution system (PDS), and in distribution of food grains during the COVID-19 induced lockdowns.
"We are talking to the minister and the process might continue for a few more hours. We have seized several documents from his residences, and the minister's bank accounts are being scrutinised.
Searches are also underway at the residences of Mallick's former personal assistant in Dum Dum area, and at a few other places, including Beliaghata and Basdroni," the ED officer told PTI.
Trinamool Congress leader and state minister Shashi Panja also criticised the raids at Mallick's residences, asserting that this is an attack on the culture of Bengal at the time of Bijoya Dasami'. This is nothing but vendetta politics. We have seen there were raids at our leaders' places before Durga Puja when we were demonstrating, demanding release of (MGNREGA) funds.
We are not surprised at such search operations as they (central agencies) have identified certain targets... And this will continue," Panja alleged.
BJP leader Rahul Sinha claimed that the TMC is deeply mired in corruption, with several of its leaders facing allegations of corruption.
"Whenever the ED or CBI conducts raids at TMC leaders' residences, they cry foul and describe the exercise as being politically motivated. The reality is... nearly every TMC leader is facing corruption allegations," Sinha said.
Officials of central probe agencies had recently conducted searches at various locations in the state, including at the residence of Food and Supplies Minister Rathin Ghosh and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.