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ED contacts Trinamul MP

Calcutta, April 22: Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP Ahmad Hassan has been called by the Enforcement Directorate to “clarify” how his newspaper that had drawn the interest of Saradha boss Sudipta Sen is “still running”.

“The Enforcement Directorate wants to know how the daily newspaper is still runningÖ. We have prepared an answer and I would convey how we have formed an employees’ association that is pooling money to run the newspaper,” Hassan told The Telegraph in response to a question whether the central agency probing the Saradha scandal had called him.

Sources said the ED wanted clarifications on whether any Saradha funds had gone to the newspaper Kalam.

Hassan, the editor who was elected to the Rajya Sabha this year, said: “The Saradha Group had taken over the newspaper but before the ownership rights could be transferred, their downfall had begun. Sudipta Sen wrote to me last April that he was unable to continue running the newspaper and promised to clear the dues of the employees by October-November. But he got arrested. The Shyamal Sen commission told us to maintain status quo on the ownership question of this newspaper.”

ED sources said the investigation would focus on whether money was routed to the paper before the ownership rights could be transferred to Sudipta Sen and whether any political contacts were involved.

The sources said the line of investigation was based on information collected in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the arrest of Sudipta Sen’s wife Piyali and his son Subhojit.

Sources said the prolonged questioning of Piyali and Subhojit over the past five days had yielded information on property — land, hotels, bars, shares and gold ornaments — whose value was estimated to be Rs 100 crore. Apart from Bengal, the assets are located in other states too, the sources said.

“Some of the immovable properties are in cities like Ahmedabad, Odisha’s Sambalpur and Bokaro in Jharkhand. Over 10 bars and restaurants in Calcutta are associated with the Saradha group directly or indirectly,” an official said.

The directorate had earlier called Trinamul’s Balurghat candidate, Arpita Ghosh, for information. She was employed with the media arm of Saradha.

“People are not being summoned depending on their political identity. The Enforcement Directorate is interested only in the money trail,” said a senior ED official.


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