Veteran Bengali actor and former Trinamool Congress lawmaker Tapas Paul breathed his last in the early hours of Tuesday in a Mumbai hospital. Suffering from heart ailments, the 61-year-old died due to a cardiac arrest. The actor-turned-politician had a career spanning three decades in the film industry and nearly 20 years in politics. During this time, he was broiled in controversies.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested then TMC MP Tapas Paul on December 30, 2016, in connection with the multi-thousand crore Rose Valley chit fund scam. Paul had worked as the director for two firms of the Rose Valley Group — Rose Valley Marketing India Ltd and Idea Projects Ltd — and during that period he had allegedly accepted money in cash and cheques.
The Krishnanagar MP was arrested within four hours of turning up at the CBI office in Salt Lake in Kolkata. According to reports, Paul wasn't able to answer questions satisfactorily when the CBI grilled him. He was arrested for cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by the federal probe agency.
The matter boiled politics in West Bengal where CM Mamata Banerjee accused the Modi government of using probe agencies to target opposition parties out of "political vendetta". The BJP had then hit back alleging that Banerjee was belligerently opposing the proceedings in the case to divert attention from the scams in which several top Trinamool leaders have been charged with wrongdoing.
The Rose Valley financial scandal is a major financial scam caused by the collapse of a Ponzi scheme run by Rose Valley Group which collected more than ₹ 17,520 crores from the public throughout India – including West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar by luring depositors with the false promises of high return/interest on their deposits. While Rs 10,850 crores were refunded, the remaining ₹6,670 crore is still unpaid. The Rose Valley group had allegedly floated a total of 27 companies for running the chit fund operations of which only 12 were active.
Tapas Paul had made headlines in 2014 when he was caught on camera provoking his supporters to kill rival CPI(M) party workers and rape their women. Although he was censured by Mamata Banerjee, he was later let off lightly after he apologised for his “emotional outburst”.
(With inputs from agencies) (Photo: Twitter/@INC_TINKU)