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ED sends Saradha notice to Arpita

- Trinamul contestant asked to share information on companies
Arpita Ghosh in Balurghat on Sunday. (Mithun Roy)

April 20: The Enforcement Directorate has served a notice on theatre personality Arpita Ghosh, who is Trinamul’s Lok Sabha candidate from Balurghat, asking her to share information regarding the functioning of Saradha Group’s companies.

The agency sent the notice yesterday to Sishu Kishore Academy, an institution where Arpita was earlier a chairperson.

ED officials said the agency had sent the letter to her because she was a former employee of a Saradha channel, Ekhon Samay, which never aired.

Arpita had lodged a case against Saradha owner Sudipta Sen, accusing him of not paying her a salary for four months. This eventually led to Sen’s arrest.

“We served her the notice seeking to collect information about the functioning of the Saradha Group of companies. We will also want to know about her salary details,” an ED official said.

Arpita today said in Balurghat that she had filed a complaint with the Election Commission against the BJP and the CPM for branding her a beneficiary of the Saradha Group.

Arpita, a theatre personality seen as close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, hit out at her rivals at a time BJP, CPM and Congress leaders have started piling the heat on Trinamul over the scam.

Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, talked about the Saradha “loot”. Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi also insinuated Trinamul’s involvement in the scam.

Saradhar koti koti taka kothay gelo? Trinamuler ke ke taka neyechhe sab berobe. (Where have the crores of rupees of Saradha gone? Those in Trinamul who have taken money from Saradha would be exposed),” Bhattacharjee said in Lalbagh, Murshidabad, today.

In Balurghat, an angry Arpita said she would file a defamation suit against a local CPM leader, Manabesh Chaudhury, who had called her, the chief minister and several other Trinamul leaders “chor (thief)” on his Facebook page, alleging their links with the Saradha Group.

Arpita rubbished the charge that she was a beneficiary of the Saradha Group, saying she was the first in the state to file a case against Sen.

Arpita said she had “been hearing for the last few days that Left Front leaders are telling people that I am not a cultural personality, rather I am more popular as a Saradha employee”.

She said her rivals “are saying that I used to get Rs 5 lakh as salary during my service at Saradha. They are also making a propaganda that I would be sent to jail very soon after the Lok Sabha election. After hearing these, we decided to counter the attacks.”

Arpita said she would “file a specific case against Manabesh Chaudhury, the district convener of the Left Front in South Dinajpur, for making an attempt to malign me.”

In a Facebook post yesterday, Chaudhury had written: “Uchhasare bolibo Mamata, Madan, Kunal aro Trina (meaning Trinamul) mantri, MP, amader Balurghat er Trina prarthi chor chor chor (I will say aloud that Mamata, Madan, Mukul, Trinamul ministers, MP and the Trinamul Balurghat contestant are thieves, thieves, thieves).”

When Chaudhury was asked today about Arpita’s threat, he said: “If her actions are negative, defamation will happen.”

Arpita told ABP Ananda this evening that the ED “called me up and asked me whether I had any documents related to accounts, documents from Delhi required for running a channel. I told them I don’t have any such documents. I was the executive editor of the channel.”

She said the ED also wanted a written statement, which she would give after the April 24 election in Balurghat.

“They had sent the notice to Shishu Kishore Academy. Since I have resigned I did not receive the notice,” the Trinamul candidate said.

Today, Sen’s daughter-in-law — the wife of his son Subhajit — turned up at the office of the ED in Calcutta after being served a notice.

Priyanka Sen Bandopadhyay spent nine hours in the sixth-floor office at the Central Government Office complex in Salt Lake where she was asked to produce the documents relating to her bank accounts.

Priyanka, in her 20s, was asked about what she knew about Sudipta Sen’s assets. “We wanted to know whether Sudipta’s money was routed through Priyanka’s account. We examined her bank accounts. So far, we haven’t found any suspicious transaction in her bank account,” said an ED official.

Priyanka turned up at the ED office around 8am.

According to sources, the officials wanted to cross-check the statement that Subhojit had provided during interrogation. “We asked about details about her husband’s assets. She co-operated with us,” said an official. “Priyanka is not a suspect. We may consider her as a witness.”