TMC MP Kunal Ghosh stable after suicide bid in jail
KOLKATA, NOVEMBER 14
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]uspended Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh, an accused in the Saradha chit fund case, allegedly tried to commit suicide by consuming sleeping pills in the early hours of Friday, putting a question mark on security arrangements in the Kolkata jail where he has been lodged.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said superintendent of the Presidency Correctional Home, the jail doctor and the warden were suspended after the incident, even as there was no clarity on how Ghosh accessed the sedatives inside the jail.
In the state assembly, Banerjee said home secretary Basudeb Banerjee would head a committee which would probe the incident.
Ghosh, in front of a judge, had threatened suicide on Monday if the influential people named in the multi-crore Saradha scam were not arrested within 72 hours.A member of Rajya Sabha, he was suspended indefinitely by the ruling Trinamool Congress in September last year after he embarrassed the party by alleging that its top leadership was trying to frame him. He had even said Bengal CM Banerjee was the ‘biggest beneficiary’ of the Saradha scam.
Bengal correctional home services minister HA Safwi said Ghosh, who has been behind the bars since last November, claimed to have consumed sleeping pills and was admitted to state-run SSKM Hospital.
“Doctors were called and they found everything to be normal, but we did not take any chance and got him admitted to the SSKM Hospital.”
Pradip Mitra, the director of Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research in the hospital, said, “He was brought here at 3am in a drowsy condition. He is better now.”
Doctors told HT Ghosh probably consumed tablets of the alprazolam group, a popular sedative.
But it was still not known how he managed to get them inside the prison. His high-security cell is manned by two guards.
A source told HT that Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which arrested Ghosh on November 23 last year, will question the jail authorities on the matter.
“Before he went to sleep, we searched him thoroughly. But no sedative or sleeping pill was found in his possession.
“But around 2.30am, he started complaining of breathlessness and claimed he had taken sleeping pills. Jail doctors called on him, examined him thoroughly but did not find anything abnormal. Still we did not take any chance,” a top jail department official told PTI.
Soumyajit Raha, Ghosh’s lawyer, said the former Trinamool leader who was once considered close to CM Banerjee was “extremely depressed” during the “last hearing (on Monday)”.
“We informed the court too. It is surprising how sedatives found their way inside the jail.”
The jail authorities, meanwhile, filed an FIR against Ghosh for allegedly attempting to commit suicide.
Ghosh was the chief executive officer of the media empire run by the Saradha Group. Alongside Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen and his close associate Debjani Mukherjee, he has been named in a CBI chargesheet in connection with the case.
Ghosh’s alleged suicide attempt adds a fresh chapter to a major controversy that has rocked Bengal of late.
The shadow of the Saradha chit fund scam has been hounding CM Banerjee and her government since it exploded in early 2013. The issue had triggered a huge storm during the Lok Sabha election campaign, with opposition parties training guns on Banerjee over the scam.
Last year, the Centre had ordered a multi-agency probe into the activities of the Kolkata-based group in the scandal estimated to be worth around Rs. 20,000 crore.
The company’s promoters and top executives were accused by angry investors of creating a web of companies across several states in eastern India to dupe small depositors.