Bengal to acquire closed Saradha TV channels, Left opposes

Kolkata, May 23 (IANS) In the wake of the shutting down of the scam-tainted Saradha Group media house, the West Bengal government Thursday announced it would acquire two of the closed TV channels. The Left questioned the decision on moral and legal grounds and sought its reversal.

“We have decided to acquire Tara Muzik and Tara News and, on grounds of humanity, will give ex-gratia payment of Rs.16,000 each to the 168 employees of the two channels for the month of May,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told media persons here.

Banerjee also said the state government will soon enact a legislation to give effect to the acquisition.

Terming the decision as “wastage of public money”, the Left Front raised legal and ethical questions on the move and demanded its immediate rollback.

“We don’t think the state government has the legal right to acquire private TV channels. Moreover, how ethical is it to acquire the assets of a company which is being probed for a scam, and especially when the matter is sub-judice,” Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra told media persons here.

Accusing the Banerjee regime of shielding the perpetrators of the multi-crore Saradha Group chit fund scam, the Marxist leader said the government should focus more on trying to indemnify the poor Saradha investors instead of wasting public money.

The two Bengali channels were bought by the Saradha Group in 2011, but were facing hard times since the management served closure notices just before the Bengali New Year Day, April 15, allegedly without giving salaries pending for the past three months.

While the state celebrated the Bengali New Year, anchors and independent artists of Tara Muzik wept profusely on the day as they announced the closure of the channel.

The “teary spectacle” not only moved viewers across Bengal but made its chief minister “take notice for the first time” of the multi-crore-rupee Saradha Group chit fund scam.

Banerjee has repeatedly claimed that she came to know of the scam only after inquiring about it, following the Tara Muzik programme.

The employees of the channels had later resolved to stay on air, as a mark of protest against such shady firms.

Saradha boss Sudipta Sen and two of his close aides, including director Debjani Mukherjee, are behind bars.

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