Early August, an India Today investigation into West Bengal’s job recruitment scandal found out how a cab driver in real life became a company director.
A month-and-a-half later, the Enforcement Directorate has had the same man, Kalyan Dhar, on its record, admitting in the ED chargesheet that he had been hired as a chauffeur by Arpita Mukherjee and that he knew nothing about his role as a director in her companies.
In their week-long probe starting late July, India Today’s Special Investigation Team tracked down Dhar’s ordinary home at Belgharia near Kolkata and found he didn’t even own a motorcycle while company papers showed him as a wealthy businessman.
Dhar was shown as a co-director of three firms along with Arpita Mukherjee, who was arrested after the ED probing the alleged job scam seized piles of cash from her apartments.
Her friend and the then state minister Partha Chatterjee was taken into custody as the main suspect in the case.
The ED chargesheet has corroborated India Today’s findings that Dhar was husband of Mukherjee’s younger sister.
In his statement to the Enforcement Directorate, he admitted that Mukherjee had hired him as her driver for Rs 18,000 per month.
Dhar was shown as a co-director at Symbiosis Merchants, Sentry Engineering and Echchay Entertainment, the three companies which now stand as accused entities in the ED chargesheet.
When India Today probed his neighbours late July, they confirmed that the man was no entrepreneur or businessman.
“He owns no vehicle, not even a motorbike. He was a taxi driver before. He now drives Arpita’s car,” Subir Chakraborty, a neighbour who had known Dhar since school days, had told India Today.
DIRECTORS SPILL THE BEANS
Meantime, India Today also reached out to the other so-called directors in Mukherjee’s shell companies who gave their testimonies to the ED.
Mrinmoy Malakar, an employee of a separate company, corroborated to India Today his statement to the ED that his boss had made him to sign off as a director in Ananta Texfab firm. Mrinmoy Malakar
“But you are its first director. Your signature is there,” asked the reporter.
“The signature is mine. I am a worker in another company. They made me to sign,” Malakar replied.
His actual employer, Kamal Singh Bhutoria, revealed that he followed the then minister Chatterjee’s instructions to have his staff sign off as a director in Mukherjee’s company.
“Sir, it’s a power lobby. If they say something, we have to do it. We didn’t know this story would become this big,” Bhutoria, himself a director of a coal-and-coke trading company, told India Today, corroborating his statement to the ED. “One has to oblige Sahib. As a businessperson, we too expect some help.”
A caretaker of a banquet hall, Biswarup Das explained he too was made to sign off as a director in Mukherjee’s companies.
The ED has recorded his version.
“I didn’t want to lose my job so will sign off wherever asked to. You can see my house. How bad it is. This isn’t the house of any director,” Das told India Today.