West Bengal

Charge sheets and a suicide attempt

Print edition : December 12, 2014

Kunal Ghosh leaves hospital after tests were conducted on him following his suicide attempt in jail on November 15. Photo: PTI

THE suicide attempt in jail by Kunal Ghosh, the former Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha member, who has been charge-sheeted by the CBI in the multi-crore deposit-collection scam by the Saradha group, has come as a big embarrassment for the ruling Trinamool Congress.

In the early hours of November 14, Ghosh was rushed to the SSKM hospital in Kolkata from the Presidency Jail after he took an overdose of anti-anxiety pills in his cell. Three days earlier, Ghosh had threatened in open court that he would kill himself if the “real culprits” were not arrested within 72 hours.

Ghosh had written a note, in which he reportedly mentioned, along with several Trinamool leaders, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself.

Opposition parties asked how it was possible for Ghosh to get access to so many pills inside a high-security prison. In the State Assembly, Mamata stated that an attempt was being made to make “saints out of the guilty people”, and pointed out that the jail superintendent and some other personnel had been suspended. But the government’s discomfort was evident in the manner in which Ghosh was prevented from talking to the media outside the hospital when he was taken to the Bangur Institute of Neurology. The police handled him roughly and even held their caps in front of his face and shouted to drown out his words.

From the time the Saradha scam hit the State around the middle of 2013, it has been a thorn on the side of the Trinamool Congress government. It cannot escape the fact that it was once perceived to be very close to the tainted company and its chairman, Sudipta Sen, who is now behind bars. The print media and television channels owned by the group served practically as a mouthpiece for the Trinamool Congress from the time it began to assert its presence in the State as the Opposition. Kunal Ghosh himself was the chief executive officer of the group’s media wing.

Though in his letter to the CBI, dated April 6, 2013, weeks before his arrest, Sen wrote that two Trinamool Rajya Sabha MPs, Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose, had entered into an “agreement” with him to “protect” his business from the State and Central governments in exchange for a high consideration, Ghosh has maintained that he was merely a “salaried” employee of the company.

In the first charge sheet that the CBI filed in October this year, Ghosh, Sudipta Sen and Debjani Mukherjee, the second in command in the organisation, were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to cheating and criminal conspiracy, and under Sections 4 and 6 of Prize Chit and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act of 1978. The second charge sheet, filed on November 17, named, besides Sen and Mukherjee, five others as accused. They were Trinamool leader and retired Director General of West Bengal Police Rajat Majumdar; football club East Bengal’s official, Debabrata Sarkar, businessmen Sajjan and Sandhir Agarwal (father and son), and Assamese filmmaker Sadananda Gogoi. Kunal Ghosh was not named in it.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

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