Three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand have been detained in West Bengal's Howrah district by the police after cash worth more than 48 lakh was seized from a vehicle in which all of them were travelling.

The vehicle belonged to one of the three Congress legislators who was arrested on Saturday evening along with the other two party MLAs.

The three detained Congress MLAs -- Irfan Ansari from Jamtara Assembly constituency, Rajesh Kacchap from Khijri (Scheduled Tribe) Assembly constituency and Naman Bixal Kongari from Kolebira (Scheduled Tribe) Assembly constituency -- have told the police that the cash was meant for purchasing sarees from the renowned wholesale market at Burrabazar in central Kolkata.

Howrah Rural Police sources said that all the three Congress MLAs claimed that they represent tribal-dominated constituencies in Jharkhand, especially Khijri and Kolebira.

"They (Congress MLAs) informed us that they wanted to purchase sarees in large quantities from Burrabazar wholesale market for the purpose of distribution in their respective constituencies on the occasion of the forthcoming World Tribal Day on August 9, 2022," said an official of the Howrah Rural Police.

The three MLAs also claimed that they also wanted to use the opportunity of coming to West Bengal to make a pleasure trip to the sea-side resort village of Mandarmani in West Bengal's east Midnapore district.

However, the interrogating police officers are not satisfied with the explanations given by the three MLAs since they were unable to produce any documents to establish the source of the money seized from the vehicle.

Reacting to the arrest of the three Congress legislators late Saturday evening, the West Bengal Congress President and Lok Sabha MP, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that if the three party MLAs from Jharkhand are proved to be involved in any illegal activities, then they must be punished and the Congress leadership will not shield them.