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TMC MP arrested in Saradha scam, opposition demands CBI probe

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Kolkata, Nov 23:

A day after he dragged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s name into the Saradha scam, suspended Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh was Saturday arrested in connection with the biggest financial scandal to have rocked the state.

Confirming the arrest, Bidhannagar Commissionerate Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department) Arnab Ghosh said the police have evidences to indicate his involvement in conspiracy with scam kingpin and Saradha promoter Sudipta Sen, now behind bars.

Kunal Ghosh, Suspended TMC MP
Kunal Ghosh, Suspended TMC MP

“He (Kunal Ghosh) was the Group CEO (chief executive officer) of Saradha Media. In the investigation carried out so far, we have got proof that he was a part of the conspiracy along with Sen and others,” he said.

The DC said the journalist-turned-politician was arrested for several offences under sections 420 (cheating), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code, in pursuance of a case filed by a general manager of Broadcast Worldwide – which was a part of the Saradha media empire.

Ghosh, who drew a whopping Rs.15 lakh monthly salary as Saradha Media CEO, got sucked into the controversy after his name figured in a letter purportedly written by Sen to the country’s premier probe agency Central Bureau of Investigation in April. Sen had urged that the letter be treated as an FIR.

The arrest came hours after the Rajya Sabha member wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding a CBI probe into the scam and filed an FIR against Arnab Ghosh alleging he was being “blackmailed and compelled” to give a statement in the scandal about the whereabouts of Saradha’s huge funds.

“He has been compelling me to make a statement and threatened me to arrest if I did not make a statement,” said Kunal Ghosh.

Arnab Ghosh said law would take its course on the complaint.

“Whatever legal action needs to be taken will be taken regarding the FIR. Law will take its own course. If the complaint is found to be true I am ready to face the consequences, but if it’s false then the complainant will have to face the legal consequences,” said the officer.

“We have evidence that is why we have arrested him. He played an equal part with Sudipta Sen in most of his misdeeds”, but refused to part with more details for the “sake of investigation”.

Ghosh Friday had expressed apprehension that he could be arrested Saturday, and dropped a bombshell alleging Saradha’s media arm was set up to promote Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress chief, as the country’s next Prime Minister

Kunal Ghosh had faced a couple of rounds of police grilling in the first few months after the Saradha Group companies collapsed and downed shutters in April unable to repay the depositors who had parked their funds in its ponzi schemes lured by high interest rates.

But his real predicament started soon after the MP lashed out against the Trinamool leadership at a blood donation camp Sept 20 claiming he was being made a scapegoat and demanded a CBI probe.

A day later, Ghosh was summoned to the commissionerate for questioning – and has faced multiple rounds of intensive grilling since then.

Suspended by the party Sep 28, he has also been interrogated by the Serious Fraud Investigation office (SFIO) as well as the Enforcement Directorate.

While Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien said the “law will take its own course”, the opposition parties questioned the timing and asked for a CBI probe.

“The timing says a lot. He has been arrested a day after taking Banerjee’s name. The demand for a CBI probe is now more than justified,” Communist Party of India-Marxist central committee member Mohammad Salim told IANS.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said while the arrest was a prerogative of the investigating officer, “the allegation against the CM has to be properly inquired into.”  (IANS)