Debjani cousin claims frame-up
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- Published 25.04.13
|Arpita at the news conference. (Pradip Sanyal)|
Calcutta, April 24: Debjani Mukherjee’s family today said she had merely followed the instructions of her boss, Saradha owner Sudipta Sen, and that she had been framed.
Her back to cameras and head wrapped in a dupatta, Debjani’s cousin Arpita told a news conference convened in a tea stall near Alipore court: “Her parents are ill and are traumatised by the incidents and I am here to speak on behalf of the family.”
Arpita, 23, Debjani’s paternal uncle’s daughter, tried desperately to distance the family from the default scam in which some people may have made pots of money at the expense of some of Bengal’s poorest.
Debjani, 27, who had joined Saradha as a receptionist, had risen to be the executive director of the group and the right-hand woman of its owner within three years.
“My sister has been framed by Sudipta Sen. She was the executive director only in name, without any powers at all,” alleged Arpita.
She said Debjani had got as a gift from Sen two flats in a four-storey apartment near Dhakuria station. “Sudipta Sen had gifted Debjani the apartment where we live,” Arpita said when asked who owned the house.
But asked why Sen would give a gift worth around Rs 80 lakh if Debjani had no significant role in the company’s affairs, Arpita said: “The cost of the flats was being deducted monthly from her salary.”
Debjani had attended St. John’s Diocesan Higher Secondary School and completed her graduation in English from Shibnath Shastri College. It was during her second year in college in 2007 that she had joined the company as a receptionist.
Arpita said she was an employee of Saradha’s “education group” and was posted in Siliguri for the past two years.
At Srijani Residency on 48 Dhakuria Station Road, Debjani occupies two adjacent flats with a combined area of about 2,000sqft. While flat 3A have the names of Debjani’s parents Timir Mukherjee and Sharbari Mukherjee on the letterbox, 3B bears the names of Debjani, her younger sister Debanjana and Arpita.
The Telegraph had visited the apartment on Monday and rung the intercom bell, which is fitted with a video camera, but found no response.
According to Arpita, Debjani had last spoken to her parents on April 10 before flying to Delhi “for a board meeting” of Saradha. She had apparently told her parents that the meeting was scheduled to take place near Jim Corbett National Park and that she would be back in Calcutta on April 15.
Debjani’s family had apparently lost touch with her between April 10 and 22. On April 22, a sobbing Debjani called up lawyer and friend Avishek Mukherjee from Srinagar to express her desire to surrender before police.
Mukherjee and another lawyer, Anirban Guha Thakurta, accompanied Arpita to the news conference.
Arpita’s news conference seemed to throw up more questions about Debjani and her association with Saradha than answers. If Debjani had gone off the radar for 12 days, why did her family not lodge a missing persons’ diary?
Arpita alleged that Debjani had not received her salary since October and had tendered her resignation from the company in December. If that was the case, why did Debjani fly to Delhi to attend the company’s board meeting?
When Arpita fumbled, the lawyers tried to say she was there because “the meeting was to discuss issues that cropped up during her tenure”.