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Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Realtor extort slur on TMC MP, councillor

Sinha denied the allegations and claimed Chowdhury was targeting her as she had stood up for some tenants the developer was trying to evict

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 22.06.19, 08:29 PM
Santanu Sen leaves the academy building of NRS hospital on June 16, 2019. Sen, a physician leader who was a former councillor in the area, has dismissed the charges and threatened to sue Chowdhury for defamation.

Santanu Sen leaves the academy building of NRS hospital on June 16, 2019. Sen, a physician leader who was a former councillor in the area, has dismissed the charges and threatened to sue Chowdhury for defamation. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

A Calcutta realtor has alleged that a Trinamul Rajya Sabha member and a party councillor extorted “lakhs of rupees as cuts” from him since 2012, the claims coming amid a clamour across Bengal for refund of “cut money” from Trinamul leaders.

Sumantra Chowdhury, a developer based in north Calcutta’s Sinthee, made the allegations against Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen and councillor Pushpali Sinha in a statement to the media.

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The statement has been widely circulated on social media, adding to the embarrassment of Trinamul in a week that saw the “cut money” debate take centre-stage after Mamata ordered leaders to refund any such sums.

Sen, a physician leader who was a former councillor in the area, has dismissed the charges and threatened to sue Chowdhury for defamation.

Sinha also denied the allegations and said Chowdhury was targeting her as she had stood up for some tenants he was trying to evict from a property in the area.

“I am able to say this because of the courage Didi (Mamata Banerjee) has provided us, the masses, by issuing her directive to refund cut money. I have been forced by Santanu Sen to give him a total of around Rs 42 lakh till last year, starting with Rs 25,000 in 2012…. He had a set formula. For each cottah of land, irrespective of the work on it, I had to pay him Rs 2 lakh,” said Chowdhury.

“Santanu Sen started the syndicate culture in Sinthee. We have been in the business of construction materials since 1975. But after the syndicate, even for my own work, any work, material had to be sourced from his cartel. Inflated prices, poor quality, inaccurate measurements… stealing every step of the way,” Chowdhury added, while repeatedly thanking the Trinamul chief.

Chowdhury went on to accuse councillor Sinha of having taken around Rs 3 lakh from others in his family and demanding Rs 12 lakh for construction work he planned to carry out on a six-cottah plot he owns in the area. “I clearly told her I will not pay up. She threatened me with consequences. I stood my ground,” Chowdhury said.

Sinha denied the charges. “He was being cruel to some tenants. I was asking him to help them out. He said he would not give them even 10 paise and would drive them out to the streets. What he has said are outright lies,” said the Ward 2 councillor.

Sen, the Rajya Sabha member who is now a councillor of another ward in the area, threatened defamation suits. “Me and my wife are physicians. I am the president of the Indian Medical Association. We have a certain social standing. These baseless allegations are a motivated assault, aimed at damaging us mentally and socially,” Sen told The Telegraph.

“I have initiated the process of civil and criminal defamation suits against him. I will see him in court,” Sen added.

Told about the threat of legal action, Chowdhury said he was “overwhelmed” by the support he had received. “I have nothing to fear. I will not back out of this battle. The whole country is backing me. I have not uttered a single lie. And I pledge my utmost, undying respect for Mamata Banerjee… this is not against her.”

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