Monday, 30th October 2017

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‘Vengeful’ central plot killed Tapas Paul: Mamata

The Bengal chief minister organised a state funeral for actor-lawmaker

  • Published 20.02.20, 3:30 AM
  • Updated 20.02.20, 3:30 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Mamata Banerjee speaks to Tapas Paul’s wife Nandini and daughter Sohini at the actor’s funeral at Rabindra Sadan on Wednesday Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday blamed the Centre for actor-politician Tapas Paul’s “untimely death”, accusing the BJP government of plotting a “heinous and vengeful scheme” to keep political opponents in prison without trial for long periods.

The Bengal chief minister organised a state funeral for two-term Krishnagar MP and two-time Alipore MLA and personally paid her respects to Paul.

“The way he had exhausted himself mentally…. Mentally, he was so battered and bruised. Before his death he did not perhaps even get to know what his crime was. One year and one month, a No. 1 film star like Tapas, known not only in Bengal but all over the country, had to languish in prison,” Mamata said at Rabindra Sadan shortly before Paul’s mortal remains were taken to the Keoratala crematorium.

Paul had joined a fledgling Trinamul Congress in 2000 and remained active in the party till his December 2016 arrest by the CBI in connection with the Rose Valley deposit-default case. During 13 months in custody in Odisha, he had to spend a long time in hospital and his health drastically deteriorated.

“Tapas Paul… this untimely departure of his in an unbearably distressed, hurt, wounded and scarred state…. This politically vindictive behaviour, the central government’s joghonyo protihingshaporayon porikolpona (heinous and vengeful scheme), nobody is being spared,” Mamata said.

“Fair trial, if there’s punishment after that, nobody is going to object. But for such a long time, keeping them behind bars, what koushol (contrivance) is this?” the Trinamul chief asked.

“You know about the Sudipda matter as well, it was about a (flight) ticket upgrade, from economy class to executive class, nothing else. The money was returned,” Mamata said, referring to Calcutta North MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay’s 136-day stay in CBI custody in connection with Rose Valley probes.

She attributed two other deaths in Trinamul families to the alleged misuse of probe agencies by the Centre.

“Sultan Ahmed (former Union minister and Uluberia MP who died in 2017 at the age of 64), I had spoken to his family. They had told me, he got a letter and a call…. He went to the bathroom… there, he died,” Mamata said.

“(Howrah MP) Prasun Banerjee’s wife died, she just couldn’t take it anymore. Arjuna awardee Prasun Banerjee (former captain of the Indian football team)…. If somebody violates a law, the law, of course, will take its own course. But that does not mean disgrace, pain and abuse will be accorded day after day, to finish people’s lives,” she added. Ahmed and Prasun Banerjee’s names featured in the Narada sting probe.

Mamata also referred to film producer Shrikant Mohta’s health. Mohta was arrested in January last year by the CBI, and also moved to Bhubaneswar, in connection with the Rose Valley probe. “Even Shrikant Mohta, you know, for 13 months now…. I don’t know what this game is,” she said.

The Opposition criticised the chief minister’s comments.

BJP state vice-president Jayprakash Majumdar said: “She never even moved a muscle to protest Tapas Paul’s arrest. After his arrest, her party simply distanced itself from him.”

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya and the CPM’s Jadavpur MLA, Sujan Chakraborty, lambasted Mamata for allegedly trying to politicise Paul’s death after neglecting him.