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Author: Arshad Ali

TMC MP Tapas Paul arrested in Rose Valley case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamul Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP and actor Tapas Paul was arrested on Friday after a four-hour-long questioning in two sessions at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office here for his alleged association with the Rose Valley Group.Paul had been the director of Brand Value Communication, the media division of the Group. His wife Nandini Paul, who was also an employee of the company, was also questioned on Friday.Sources said that he was arrested following several inconsistencies during interrogation. “He was mainly asked five questions: whether he had taken cash from the Rose Valley Group, what were the amenities he enjoyed as the director of the media wing, when had he written to the Centre against the chit fund companies of the state, why he had not mentioned Rose Valley when he had mentioned the Saradha Group and whether he had continued taking favours from the company even after stepping down from his post,” said a senior CBI official.He also said that the CBI had reasons to believe that Paul used to take cash from the company even after detaching himself from it. Sources said that Rose Valley employees had been questioned in the last one-and-a-half years and it was found out that Paul had met Goutam Kundu, who owned the company several times at different five-star hotels which Paul couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation to.Paul had been a TMC MLA for two terms from the Alipore constituency from 2001 till 2009 and had been representing the party in the Lok Sabha from 2009 from the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency.Paul would be taken to Bhubaneswar and would be produced at a court there on Saturday and CBI officials said that they would seek Paul’s custody.In June 2010, he had written to Sebi and RBI against the chit fund companies in Bengal but had not mentioned Rose Valley at that time. Officials said that he had said that he did not know that Rose Valley raised money like a chit fund company but the CBI didn’t buy the theory.Another TMC MP, Sudip Bandopadhyay, had also been summoned by the CBI and he is believed to reach the CBI office on January 3.Interestingly, Paul’s arrest comes 50 days after the demonetization drive, against which the TMC had been vocal from the very beginning. Naturally, it has given rise to several political reactions from the TMC and other Opposition parties. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that it was political vendetta and that she was not surprised and she was not afraid too. “We have been protesting the demonetization policy and knew something like this will happen. They may arrest more of our MPs but we will not deter from our protest,” Mamata said at a press conference.State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said that there may be other bigger names who should not be spared. “CBI investigation should be carried out the right way and the high and mighty should not be spared if found guilty. At the same time, no innocent person should be harassed,” he told DNA.CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “Why only Tapas? He is not even the ear, which when pulled the head will be caught. Tapas is at the most the hand. Anyone who possesses money which has been siphoned off the common people should be arrested.”State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, however, said that it was only a matter of time. “It was inevitable. Why was he not arrested so far was the question. Another MP is also going to be questioned. He has been summoned by the CBI, but he is not going there probably he knows that he will be arrested too. There will be more such arrests, given the kind of corruption within the TMC,” Ghosh said.

BJP delegation to visit Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following communal tension at Dhulagarh in Howrah district of West Bengal since last week, a team of three BJP Central leaders will visit the violence affected area and meet the families of victims.The team will comprise of Lok Sabha MPs Jagdambika Pal and Satyapal Singh. Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly was supposed to be the third member of the team but had been excluded because of her health conditions. She had fallen sick suddenly and had been admitted to AMRI Hospital. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh will also accompany them. “There had been serious communal disturbances in the area which the Centre has been apprised of and now the party national president Amit Shah wants a team to visit the place and take stock of the situation.Members of the team will visit the place, meet family members of the affected and later prepare a report and send it to the Centre. “We had earlier met the Governor regarding this and told him about the violence there. He had summoned the Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday and questioned him regarding the instance of violence,” Ghosh said talking to DNA.A statement released on Thursday by the governor house said that the governor had asked the DGP to ensure peace in the area and to take strict action against offenders.He also added over 150 families have been rendered homeless owing to the violence. Criticising the role of the state and administration he said, “The votebank policy of Mamata Banerjee has led the police and administration to be mere spectators of the massacre. She tries to derive political dividend out of almost everything.” He added that media has been kept away from the place and that people were furious at the role of the government. “Those who have lost lakhs were given Rs 35,000 as compensation cheques. They had protested against it,” Ghosh added. The team would reach Dhulagarh on Saturday at about 1 pm.BJP leaders had alleged that instances of violence have risen during the reign of Mamata-led government.The Dhulagarh violence had sparked off last week when members of two communities had clashed when a procession by members of one community was taken out. Sources said that they started hurling bombs at each other and Howrah Police had to resort to lathi charge, fire tear gas shells and use water canon to bring the situation under control.

Mamata writes to Centre on deploying CRPF, calls action unconstitutional

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shot off a letter on Friday to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, following the deployment of central forces to assist Income-Tax (I-T) officials during their raids in the city.In the letter, Mamata said that the state was kept in the dark about the deployment of 15 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. “The state government objects strongly to this decision, which is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and against all principles of cooperative federalism,” the letter read.It said that the deployment of any central police force to any state could only be done at the request of the state government. “The decision must be immediately revoked,” she demanded. Mamata assured that the state would provide all necessary help, if requested by any central government agency.The letter by Mamata had been forwarded to all chief ministers as well.The West Bengal Chief Minister’s letter comes after a letter dated December 20, where the Department of Revenue and the Ministry of Finance requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide 15 armed personnel to I-T officials for assistance in their seizure operations in Kolkata.Sources at the I-T department said that during search operations at several places in the city, they had been outnumbered even while being accompanied by state police personnel. Thus they had requested for central forces, which would be used only if there was any lack of cooperation from the part of the state police.”It is, by no means, a step to demean or insult the efforts of the state police. They have been kept as an additional means of precaution. Besides it is not unprecedented. Central forces have been used during recent operations in Tamil Nadu as well,” an investigating official said.Earlier this month, Mamata had protested against the deployment of army personnel at toll plazas calling it a “political vendetta.”

PM Modi is making light of serious allegations to divert attention: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress MLA and leader of Opposition of the West Bengal Assembly, Abdul Mannan on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mocking of the party vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.“It is sad to see that the country is being led by a person who needs to be institutionalised. We have had leaders in the past who, on a slight allegation of corruption have stepped down from their posts and waited till they were given a clean chit. But our PM is not only silent on the issue, but is making fun of those who are making the allegations, to divert the attention,” Mannan said. He said that it was unfortunate that someone who hardly understood the country’s economy was criticising globally reputed economists and qualified persons such as Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram.Referring to the demonetization policy he said, “It is clear that the PM’s decision is in favour of those who possess huge amounts of black money because the PM changes his stand on a daily basis. What would be his last decision, no one knows.”He said that the state Congress would build a movement in all the 294 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state. “The AICC direction has been to put up protest programmes across the state against the past corrupt practices of the PM who had been putting up an front of being a symbol of truth. Teams will be formed and led by state Congress leaders and they will visit every district and every Lok Sabha constituency. Some of the AICC leaders are also expected to turn up here to address public meetings,” Mannan said.The message that would be sent out to people is that the Prime Minister wears suits worth Rs 10 lakh and talks about being with the poor, whereas he himself is up to his eyes with corruption.

Kolkata: Arrested businessman Parasmal Lodha no stranger to controversies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All attention turned to the palatial five-storied Lodha House at Queens Park in South Kolkata’s posh Ballygunge area on Thursday morning, after the arrest of Kolkata-based businessman Parasmal Lodha by officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at Mumbai airport.Lodha is alleged to have helped business tycoons in south India convert about Rs 25 crore of their unaccounted money in demonetized denominations into legal tenders, against a commission, through hawala routes.Sources said that he had been on the ED radar and officials had visited his residence two times earlier this week before he was finally arrested late last night while trying to leave the country. The agency also recovered Rs 2.6 lakh from his possession, in new currency notes.“We are hopeful that his arrest will give us new leads into others from Kolkata involved in the racket of converting illegal currency notes into new ones,” said a senior official.He said that officials who had come to Lodha’s residence had found that he had shifted to New Delhi in 2010 and used to visit his Queens Park residence once a month. “He had come to Kolkata last week and had left last Friday,” the official said.The residence was known to have been done up luxuriously and housed a collection of antiques. Officials said that Lodha’s wife was out of town, his two daughters were married and the house was taken care of by a staff of six members, including a driver and a caretaker.One of Lodha’s business associates, on the condition of anonymity, said that Lodha would hardly mingle with the business community in Kolkata and had run into controversies before. “He had been known for his association with several building projects where floors have been added illegally. Lodha had also been questioned by investigators after the Stephen Court fire on Park Street in March 2010, which killed 43 people,” he said. It had also been alleged that Lodha was involved in adding extra floors to building such as Bagaria Market and Nicco House.Parasmal Lodha had also hit the headlines in 1991 for taking over the then largest non-banking financial institution, Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Limited, alleging that it was being mismanaged and that he had plans of a thorough revamp of it.Apart from real estate, he had expanded his business to mining, consultancy firms and dealing in antiques. It is believed that he had shifted base to Delhi after finding the antique market more lucrative there.

IIT-Kharagpur students protest increase in fees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Protesting against the rise in semester fees, several officials of IIT-Kharagpur including the director, deputy director, dean, and registrar were gheraoed by students of the premier institution for about 15 hours.The gherao was lifted Wednesday morning after intervention of officials from the Hijli outpost located on campus. Students however, maintained that their protest would continue.On December 7, a notice was issued by the IIT administration saying that there would be a hike in the semester fees by about Rs 7550. “As a result, the expenses for research scholars and M Tech students would shoot up to Rs 37,000 from being a little over Rs 29,000 at present. We have to pay semester fees every six months,” said one of the protesters. He also alleged that faculty members have retorted to their protest saying that if they were so unhappy with the fee structure they should not have come to study at the IIT.It was found out that a research scholar and an M Tech student get a stipend of Rs 25,000 and Rs 12,400, respectively.A student said that given the stipend it was as it is very difficult to manage, especially for those who came from economically weak families. “In a recent development, the menu of the mess here has been generalised and we don’t get to choose what we eat and will have to eat off a set menu, and on top of that we have to pay Rs 90 daily for food,” said another protester. He also alleged that the fee hike was only for IIT-Kharagpur and no other IITs of the country have done so.Students chanting slogans and holding placards demonstrated in front of the Director’s building yesterday at about 10pm, preventing officials from leaving.Institute officials said that the fee hike was owing to the payment of salary to some of the institute employees. “The director and the registrar have talked to the students’ representatives this morning and it has been decided that the problem would be solved through a dialogue. Although the fee structure remains as it was according to the last notification, there is possibility of a restructuring after another round of meeting with the students’ representatives,” said a senior official of the institute.Later, talking to DNA, registrar of the institution, Pradip Payne said that the protest was mainly against the rise in charges for the hostel and hostel mess. Maintaining that there was no police intervention he said,

Demonetization: Mamata Banerjee slams PM Modi, terms govt as ‘deaf and dumb’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fired fresh salvos at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that all the countrymen except PM Modi have realised that demonetization was a bad move, causing tremendous hardship and eventually lead to a crisis.“By the time the Prime Minister realises the down side of demonetization it will be too late, leaving the country in doldrums,” she said, addressing a public meeting at Fulkusma in Bankura district.Mamata termed the Modi government as “deaf and dumb” and oblivious to the suffering of the common people. “Farmers are in deep trouble. People don’t have cash to buy essential commodities. Businesses are incurring losses. MNREGA workers are being deprived of wages,” she said.She also cited the example of Venezuela and said that it had rolled back its decision of demonetization when it realised that it would spell disaster. “One cannot withdraw one’s own money, even if one’s salary is Rs 15,000. How can the government dictate terms and conditions on the way people should spend their own money? Why should the poor be forced to use Paytm from which the Centre is getting a commission? Before the polls he said he was a chaiwala. Now he has become a Paytm wala,” she said.She also said that there was a divisive force in the country which was trying to create communal tension by even naming a road accident as a clash between members of two communities. “There is peace in Junglemahal and the administration will ensure that it remains like that,” she said.Commenting on Mamata’s comments in Bankura, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said that it was peaceful according to the definition of the TMC. Meanwhile referring to today’s decision of the capping of bank deposits, Bose said, “It has been an economic emergency. Since demonetization, they have been changing their position and decisions. All this indecisiveness is causing problems to the middle class. Those who are part of the mall culture are hardly affected,” he said.

CPM veteran to give Modi’s digital economy campaign a hand up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial politician and former CPM strongman from East Midnapore, Lakshman Chandra Seth, 70, has raised eyebrows as he has jumped ship to become the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a digital and cashless economy in West Bengal.”Our PM has given a call for going cashless and I’m trying to follow it. I have got a new smart phone which I am learning to use effectively. I will take the help of my younger son who is a computer engineer to help me with mobile banking and pay for my expenses through various apps,” he told DNA.Asked about his aligning with the BJP, Seth said no party is ‘untouchable’ in today’s world and there was no such thing as Left or Right.”Parliamentary democracy has broken the wall between what was previously called the Left and Right groupings. What matters is your contribution towards addressing key issues such as development, unemployment, health, education and inflation, and helping weaker sections of the society,” he said.Seth, an MP for 13 years—from 1996 to 2009—is also alleged to have been the mastermind of the infamous Nandigram violence in March 14, 2007, which had led to the death of 14 persons in police firing.The stain has led some state BJP leaders to question his induction into the party. A senior state BJP leader on condition of anonymity said, “Seth would be a liability to the party.” However, others seem to have welcomed the veteran politician with open arms. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh and vice-president Jayprakash Majumder claim that Seth’s name had not been mentioned in the charge-sheet filed by CBI regarding the Nandigram violence.”The BJP’s network is not very strong in East Midnapore and his (Seth’s) resources could be used to make inroads in the district,” said Majumder.A look into Seth’s past shows that the veteran’s career has been marked by controversies. Reportedly expelled from CPM in 2014 for ‘anti-party activities’ he maintained that he had quit the party. “CPM has become a party of sycophants. Party leaders have an authoritarian attitude and overlook the issue of development. That is why I had quit,” he added.After severing ties with CPM, Seth tried to float his own political party—Bharat Nirman Party (BNP), in August 2014—without much success. In 2015, BNP had contested the civic elections in East Midnapore district. It fielded six candidates from Tamluk, three from Egra, and one from Contai, but managed to win in only two from Tamluk. Later in the 2016 Assembly elections BNP had pitched about 20 candidates, including 16 from East Midnapore, but failed to win any.Seth later admitted that floating BNP was not a good idea and said it would be a wiser option to join one of the two national parties—BJP and Congress—and wiser still to join the one which was in power. Predicting doom for the Congress, he said the party has lost its foundation in Bengal.

BJP leaders arrested forts against fatwa by Muslim cleric

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Protesting against the ‘fatwa’ issued by Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, state BJP leaders had organised a protest rally from party state headquarters at 6 Muralidhar Sen Lane in north Kolkata to Tipu Sultan Masjid in Esplanade area of Central Kolkata but police stopped protestors near their party office itself.There had been a huge police posting since morning near the BJP office and the entire proposed length of the rally. Protestors tried to break police barricade and a scuffle between them and police officials followed. When BJP workers tried to put up a blockade on the second lane of CR Avenue where they were stopped, police opened a lathi charge to disperse protestors.As many as 48 BJP supporters including party MLA Swadhin Sarkar and senior state party leaders such as Krishna Bhattacharya, Locket Chatterjee and Amitava Roy were arrested. An effigy of Barkati was also burnt.”Police are acting as the cadre of TMC. On the behest of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, police had hit our people who were protesting peacefully. We will fight it to the finish,” Chatterjee said as she was taken to the prison van.State BJP vice president Jayprakash Majumder said, “Mamata is the Chief Minister of a state which comprises 72 per cent Hindus and yet it is sad to see that she has to take refuge behind a Muslim cleric.”Later at a press conference, party state president Dilip Ghosh said that what police had done was undemocratic. “Section 144 has been imposed at the Reserve Bank of India area and TMC leaders have been protesting there for the last two days. No police action has been taken there. Our supporters had taken out a peaceful rally police rained sticks on them injuring at least eight who had been sent to the hospital. It is highly undemocratic,” Ghosh said.Coming down on Mamata he said, “She is the Chief Minister of West Bengal but it seems Barkati is calling the shots. What authority does he have to issue a ‘fatwa’ against me?”On December 12, Barkati had said that he had issued a fatwa according to which stones should be pelted at Ghosh wherever he is sighted and that he should be thrown out of Bengal.It was found out that state BJP would put up protest demonstrations across the state till December 21 when it culminate into a bigger protest movement. “On December 21 we will put up sit in demonstrations in front of all district magistrate and superintendent of police’s offices across the state,” he said.

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