The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rap for Hrithik do
- CID scan on NGO role in kids’ expulsion over thalassaemia hoax

When Hrithik Roshan had come down in the summer of 2003, on the eve of the release of Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon, he had wooed the city with the line: “I love Calcutta because it’s got such a lot of love to give.”

It now figures that some of the love showered on Hrithik on June 27, 2003, could have come from a dubious source. For, a well-publicised function organised by NGO Smile Earth Foundation, involving the Bollywood star and thalassaemic kids, has come under the high court scanner for using children not suffering from the disease to raise funds, and the criminal investigation department (CID) has been called in.

Hrithik has since gone on to attain near-cult Krrish status, but two children he had posed with at a city star hotel that day could do with some superhuman intervention to set their lives right again.

For, the brother-sister duo clicked with their hero was handed transfer certificates by their school — the two were then in Class V and IV, respectively, of Jadavpur Vivekananda Hindi Vidyalaya — for posing as thalassaemic children.

Sahajada Salim, father of the students victimised for no fault of theirs, had reportedly tried to lodge a case with Jadavpur police station, but was refused. The resident of Srirampur Pally, in Garia, then filed a case of cheating against Sonali Chowdhury Dasgupta of Smile Earth Foundation in Alipore criminal court on July 6.

Salim, in his petition, said that the NGO officials had told them they would take the students for a day out to the zoo. “But in reality, they took the students to the programme and projected them as thalassaemia patients. As a result, the school authorities issued transfer certificates to both my son and daughter.”

Alipore court asked police to probe the allegation. The police report gave a clean chit to Smile Earth Foundation; the Alipore court dismissed the petition and acquitted Sonali Chowdhury Dasgupta.

Salim then moved an appeal in Calcutta High Court. “Police is not the fittest department to which this investigation can be entrusted,” observed Justice Asim Roy of the high court on Wednesday, and directed the CID to probe the matter.

Setting aside the Alipore court order, the judge added: “The CID is directed to interrogate the petitioner, the employees and others of the hotel where the function was organised… the photographer… (it) may also contact Hrithik Roshan in Mumbai and gather information from him for the sake of a fair probe.”

The matter comes up for hearing after two months.

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