Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday blamed the BJP government at the Centre for the “untimely” death of actor-turned-politician Tapas Paul, saying that the former TMC MP died because of the Centre’s “vendetta politics”. The Chief Minister also said that three of her party leaders died because of “torture from central agencies”.
The 61-year-old actor, who died of cardiac arrest at a Mumbai hospital on Tuesday, was in jail for over a year in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam case. He was the brand ambassador of the Rose Valley group.
After paying her last respect to the popular Bengali actor and two-time party MP, Mamata said, “Tapas Paul er mrityu abaar proman korlo ekta agency er dara otyacharito hoye manosik bhabe o durbisoho bhabe nijeke emon biporjosto kore felechilo…. aaj porjonto janteo parlo na mrityuer obdi taar aporadh ta kothay. Ek bochor ek mash Tapaser moto number one filmstar ke jail takhatey hoechilo. O naki ekta entertainment channel e director chilo tai jonno ekta maine payechilo tar jonno one ek bochor ek mash jail e rekhe deoa holo. (Tapas Paul’s death once again has proved that how he was disturbed and devasted after he was tortured by the agencies. He had become a mental and psychological wreck. He didn’t know till his death what was his crime. Tapas, who was a number one film star, was jailed for one year and one month. He was the director of an entertainment channel and he used to get the salary for that. Because of it, he was kept in jail for thirteen months).”
She praised Paul for his work in films such as Dadar Kirti and Saheb and said actors and celebrities often got associated with several organisations as brand ambassadors.
Mamata also alleged that another TMC leader Sultan Ahmed had died of cardiac arrest as he was under stress after being named as an accused in the Narada tapes scandal of 2016. Ahmed, a former Union minister, had died in 2017.
“No one is able to escape from the Centre’s political vendetta and vengeful attitude. We witnessed three deaths here. In 2017, Sultan Ahmed died. His family told me after he received a letter and a phone call, he went to the bathroom and died. Arjuna awardee footballer Prasun Banerjee’s wife also died. She was unable to bear the suffering,” the Chief Minister told reporters at Rabindra Sadan where Tapas Paul’s mortal remains were kept for people to pay their homage.
Prasun Banerjee’s name had cropped up in the Narada tapes scandal and was subjected to interrogation by both the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI. Narada scandal was a sting operation in which several top TMC leaders were purportedly shown on video accepting bribes for extending favours.
Expressing concern over the health of Bengal film producer and Shree Venkatesh Films co-founder Shrikant Mohta, who has been under arrest since January last year in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam, Mamata said, “Even in murder cases, bail is given after three months. I don’t know the exact position of the case. But Mohta is very unwell. He had a cerebral stroke.”
Referring to the arrest of senior journalist Suman Chattopadhyay in connection with another ponzi scam, the CM said he has also now been in jail for over a year.
Regarding TMC’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, who spent over four and half months in jail for his alleged links with the Rose Valley scandal, Mamata said, “He was put in custody for upgrading a (flight) ticket from economy to executive class, despite the money being returned. I don’t know what game is this.”
“If anybody violates the law, then the law will run its course. But that doesn’t mean that for days and months they would be subjected to humiliation and insults. I am shocked. I am unable to look at Tapas’s face. I couldn’t see Sultan’s body,” Mamata said.
Paul’s body was later cremated at Keoratala ghat with full state honours.
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