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Lottery probe lens on netas

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KOLKATA: Investigation into a lottery scam, in which S Nagarajan — an aide of lottery baron Santiago Martin — was involved, has thrown up names of several political leaders of West Bengal.

Curious to find out how Martin and Nagarajan built a monopoly in the lottery business in West Bengal and north-eastern states, sleuths have stumbled upon startling facts about how the duo grew under political patronage in this part of the country. Investigators said that a company owned by Martin donated money to several political parties before the last Lok Sabha election.

Martin reportedly used Kolkata as his base to spread his lottery business in West Bengal and northeastern states. While the lottery business and distribution was done by several companies under his umbrella, the entire operation in the east and northeast was monitored from Kolkata. Nagarajan reportedly used his network in Kolkata to stash money abroad through hawala channels.

“But, this was done with the help of a strong political patronage across the states,” said an investigator.

Apart from income tax department, which raided Nagarajan’s offices and residences in September, Enforcement Directorate has also started a probe in the lottery scam.

Earlier last month, ministry of home affairs had ordered an inquiry by Comptroller and Auditor General after a PIL was filed at Calcutta High Court on the issue. During initial stages of the investigation, sleuths found that the money stashed in the offices of Nagarajan were supposed to be sent to Bihar before the assembly polls in that state.

While the main company did not make any political payment, a Kolkata-based company was used to make donations to political parties before the Lok Sabha election. Investigators have also come across a payment of Rs 5 lakh made by the company to a particular political party before the election.

Teasel Marketing Private Limited, which has its head office at Sahapur Colony in south Kolkata’s Taratala, was formed in 2008 after the merger of two Jharkhand-based lottery firms.

One of those two Jharkhand-based firms, was allegedly linked to Martin.

Nagarajan was the chairman of the Jharkhand-based company for two years. After the merger of the two, shares of the new company were allotted to Martin’s sons.

Central agencies probing the scam have reasons to believe that account details of Teasel Marketing holds the key to political payments by Nagarajan and Martin. “We are looking into all transactions and that might lead to crucial clues in the scam,” said an investigator. Nagarajan also reportedly sent money to UK, Myanmar and Dubai from Kolkata.

In another development, sources said that Nagarajan has been constantly changing his statements in an attempt to confuse the investigators. Earlier, he claimed that the money recovered from Taratala office belonged to someone else.

Later, he claimed that it was his own money. He even claimed that some cash which was found hidden in the Taratala office was part of his business proceeds.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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Goons shoot at INTTUC leader

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DURGAPUR: An INTTUC leader from Durgapur, Seikh Sahabuddin, was shot at in Amrai village on Friday night when he was returning home from the party office. He has been admitted to a private hospital in Bidhan Nagar.

Two goons, their faces covered with blankets, came riding a bike, stopped in front of Sahabuddin and fired at him from a close range at around 10.30pm on Friday. Soon after the incident, local Trinamool supporters attacked the house of another Trinamool leader from the area, Seikh Budhan. They ransacked Budhan’s house and torched his motor cycle. Police rushed to rescue Budhan.

Sahabuddin, who is the working president of Durgapur sub divisional minority union, Sail and DSP contractor workers’ union of INTTUC, is reportedly very close to Durgapur Municipal Corporation mayor and local MLA Apurba Mukherjee.

Ajay Kumar Nand, police commissioner of Asansol Durgapur, told TOI that Durgapur police have already started a probe and the victim will be questioned by the cops at the hospital. A police picket has been posted in the village as the situation is still very tense.

Prabhat Chatterjee, district president of INTTUC, said that both the party and police are probing the incident. He assured that action would be taken against the accused.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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Jail jammers hit mobile frequency in nearby areas

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KOLKATA: Worried over frequent use of mobile phones inside the city jails, the state is planning to develop a mechanism that can jam the mobile frequency only on the premises of the jails.

Use of cellphones, particularly inside Presidency and Alipore jails, has become a spot bother for the jail authorities. The problem is that the jammers installed inside the jails now are also having an impact in the residential areas around.

It may be noted that there was an uproar in the city a few months ago when the accused in the Park Street gang-rape case gave updates on social media from the Presidency jail. Sources said the number of cellphone seizures from Presidency jail is more than that in Tihar jail.

According to experts, if a jammer is installed it will have impact over a certain radius and the mobile frequency system in that area will be hit. “Firstly, we need to install more jammers which will only have the jail premises as its ambit,” said ADG (prison), A K Gupta.

Gupta believes that the solution isn’t hard to find. “I think we will sort out the problem within a very short time. We are speaking to several people. We need to be more cautious because the zone is high profile where we have the chief secretary’s residence and Bhavani Bhawan.”

Considering the usage of mobile phones inside the Alipore Central Jail, jammers were installed there. But those had be withdrawn because they were creating problem for the chief minister whose residence is on the other side of Adi Ganga that flows beside the jail.

According to jail authorities, in the last one year, 45 to 50 mobiles were recovered on an average from Presidency jail each month. In a recent raid at this jail where several high-profile prisoners are lodged, 350 cell phones were seized. “This forced the authorities to install jammers in the jail and it’s true that after its installation in June this year, the number of seizure came down to 15 to 20,” a jail official told TOI on condition of anonymity.

Probe revealed that most of the prisoners are provided cell phones by the jail staff only. There have been instances when jail staff gave prisoners cell phones for a bribe of Rs 1,000.

Use of cellphones, particularly inside Presidency and Alipore jails, has become a spot bother for the jail authorities. The problem is that the jammers installed inside the jails now are also having an impact in the residential areas around

Saibal.Gupta@timesgroup.com

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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