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GP Goenka answers CID call on garden complaint

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KOLKATA: Duncan Group chairman G P Goenka finally appeared before the CID on Monday for about an hour regarding the ongoing probe in to the alleged non-payment of dues at a tea garden owned by them. CID sources indicated that Goenka has asked for sometime to give a written reply to the investigating agency’s queries.

Goenka wanted some time to reply to the CID’s questions. “As such, we have decided to grant him some more time. We might question him when he is ready with the details we have sought,” said a top level officer regarding the Bagrakote Tea Garden in Jalpaiguri Estate.

Goenka, himself, refused to comment on his interaction at Bhawani Bhawan. Sources said that Goenka – who had promised to meet investigators once he reached Kolkata – came to the CID headquarters a few minutes past 11 am and left in an hour. General manager (legal) Subir Mukherjee accompanied him.

CID officials wanted to know the reasons that had led to the non-payment of workers after October 17. The company though said in a statement that “all current dues have been cleared and there is nothing outstanding in this account.” They also wanted to know the compelling reasons that allegedly led to the company stopping rationing facilities for over several weeks even though the executives continued to receive proper salaries.

The CID team said that Goenka was “polite and fully cooperated” all through the interaction. Sources said the new papers sought from Goenka include the terms and conditions under which employees are recruited, their retirement age and retirement benefits and the accounts of the money in the past six months.

CID officials say that they have now asked for some specific documents from the company in this regard and it is likely that they would press for the same. Senior officers though did not wish to set a deadline to the probe.

Sources close to the tea major though said they were in touch with the heads of the administration and “minor hitches” in reaching a solution will soon be removed. “They have asked for supporting documents which we are preparing. We are hoping to remove the misunderstanding will end very soon,” said a confident company official.

According to CID sources, the investigating agency wishes to audit the accounts of the group of the past six months. “We are looking for leads. We hope we can get once we examine the documents. However, our probe is limited only to the non-payment of dues and does not cover any other aspect as of now,” explained a senior officer. He said that not until they go through these documents will they insist on questioning owner G P Goenka or his son. “We will follow the proper rules and procedures,” explained one investigating officer.

In September this year, a NGO and activists’ group – Right to Food and Work Campaign (RFWC)- had submitted a report to chief minister Mamata Banerjee claiming that the closed and abandoned tea estates of the company could trigger a major humanitarian crisis with a population of over 75,000 dependent of the tea gardens “forced to live in near starvation”. The CID has categorically stated the document is not part of its evidence.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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‘Saeed was an insurance for any director’

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KOLKATA: In a career spanning more than half a century, Saeed Jaffrey had made almost 200 screen appearances, working with directors including John Huston, James Ivory, David Lean, Richard Attenborough and Stephen Frears. But, his performance as Mir Roshan Ali in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ remains the high point of his career. When news of the demise of the 86-year-old actor reached the Ray family, it brought back many memories of him working at Kolkata’s Indrapuri studio.

In the film, set in 1856, Jaffrey had played the role of one of the two Indian noblemen in Lucknow who was obsessed with the game of chess. “Back then, I was assisting my father. I remember having spent some wonderful time with him on the sets. Always full of life, he came across as a sparkling personality. He was a colourful man and always jovial,” recalled filmmaker Sandip Ray, who remembered shooting with Jaffery both in Kolkata as well as in a village near Lucknow for the climax of the film.

Jaffrey was the first actor to have come on board for the film. “Baba had cast him even before he had cast Amjad (Khan), Sanjeev (Kumar) and Richard Attenborough. Prior to that, we had all heard of Saeed’s name. Sometimes, Baba and he would meet up casually. They would bump into each other at airports. Whenever they met, Saeed would say: ‘Manik-da, I am waiting for your call’,” Ray said.

When that call finally came from Ray, while he was planning ‘Shatranj…’, Jaffrey was “literally on the seventh heaven”. “I don’t remember whether Baba had made a telephone call or sent him a letter. All I can recall is that he was elated. Later, when he came down, we all sat and read the short story by Munshi Premchand on which the film was based,” he said.

While many have said that the character of Mir Roshan Ali was naive and absurd, others have described it as complex and elusive. “I don’t think it was a simple character. Saeed gave his best. He was practically a one-take artist,” Ray said.

Not just his own acting, Jaffrey apparently helped Sanjeev Kumar, too, on the sets. “It was a story of two friends and Saaed used to help out Sanjeev in some of the scenes. When he was on the sets, he would make sure that the environment was lively,” Ray recalled.

Mimicry, according to Ray, was his passion. “But, when it came to acting, he was totally focused. He brought certain nuances to the character, especially the nawabi style, that added so much to the film. Casting him ensured that a director was safe,” Ray said.

Once the shooting was over and the film was to release in the US, Jaffrey had accompanied Ray on the trip as well.

On Sunday, Jaffrey’s niece broke the news of his death on Facebook. When this news reached Sandip Ray, he said, “We lost an actor who was an insurance for any director.”

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Source: TOI-Kol

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‘Seven Wonders’ replica at Eco Park

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KOLKATA: What if the Seven Wonders of the World could be seen together? Soon, visitors would be able to have a look on the replicas of all the magnificent seven wonders at New Town’s Eco Park. A three acre plot has been identified inside Eco Park where the replicas of the seven wonders which will be about 15 to 20 feet high and made of fibre glass will be set up. Eminent artist Rupchand Kundu has been engaged by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) authorities to design the replicas.

The new Seven Wonders of the World that was chosen in the new millennium are Taj Mahal from India, Christ the Redeemer from Brazil, Chichen Itza from Mexico, the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Colosseum in Rome.

Officials said that the main idea to set up these lookalike replicas of the seven wonders is to attract visitors, specially children. “Eminent artist Rupchand Kundu who was commissioned to come up with designs of the replicas, have come up with his designs and work to set up the replicas will start very soon. It will be fibre glass made structures and will be at least 15 to 20 feet high each for visitors to enter into it,” said a Hidco official.

The Hidco authorities have been working on such experiments to come up with architectural replicas and installations in different parts of the township as part of its township beautification plan to bring a vibrant feelings on the model of European countries. Earlier this year, a 20 meter high clock tower plaza was set up at New Town in Action Area 1 that has already become an attractive place for visitors to flock in.

Also, to bring a London feel in the city, a miniature 30 meter high replica the famous Big Ben of London was set up at Lake Town – VIP Road junction that has already grabbed much attention. The replica was installed by the South Dum Dum municipality authorities.

Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Source: TOI-Kol

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