Saturday, December 4, 2021

Bengal is sloshing in unaccounted money: Why media is ignoring the obvious

I don’t blame you if you haven’t come across news on Income Tax raiding wholesale traders of fruits, among others, in Kolkata and unearthing undisclosed income of over Rs 450 crores, including seizure of Rs 1.58 crore in cash two days ago. 

I didn’t find this news in my Times of India and Indian Express, nor in Telegraph India which hits the stalls and is lobbed inside houses in Kolkata itself. 

Now newspapers, to modern men, is what prayers were for folks two centuries ago: Consumed in solitude and peace as a morning ritual. 

But when you are not told what you should be told, you do wonder if your friend Veeresh Malik, in these very columns, is right that traders have historically held sway over mediums of information as a shield of defence;  and of the eco-system of lobbyists and associations in India. Your Times of India (Sahus & Jains), Indian Express (Goenka) and Hindustan Times (Birlas) all belong to originally traders, all with deep links to Kolkata, which in turn is famous for the Calcutta Fruit Merchants Association and Macchua Bazar Fruits Merchants Association. 

And now we have this Income Tax raid on fruit-traders of Kolkata which our esteemed dailies are burying in haste. 

Before I insinuate why our media is upset at the farm laws hurting the entrenched interests of “trading community” or why twice popularly-elected prime minister Narendra Modi is disliked so much by embedded roaches in our system, let’s do a reality check if you remember to have read below news in last few weeks:

  • A Bengal-based coal trader raided by the Income Tax on alleged tax evasion of up to Rs 150 crores. Cash and bullion worth Rs 7.3 crores seized; 
  • The Income Tax Department has detected undisclosed income of â‚¹ 365 crore after it raided three real estate and stock broking groups based in Kolkata. Some Rs 3 crores and jewellery worth Rs 72 lakhs seized;
  • The Income Tax Department has detected black money of more than â‚¹ 170 crore after it raided two Kolkata-based groups engaged in steel, marble and food grain trade:
  • Then you have the arrest of Subra Kundu , a former actress and wife of Rose Valley owner Gautam Kundu who is presently jailed on that infamous Rs 17,000-crore scam. She was arrested two days after former Trinamool Rajya Sabha member and businessman KD Singh was nabbed in alleged money laundering case involving his Alchemist Group. 

Somehow, all this is not stirring our media houses who seek an RTI and highlight even if a 10 paisa of direct benefit hasn’t reached a beneficiary. There are no vocal insinuation that BJP is ploughing vendetta politics to browbeat Mamata Banerjee’s loyalists or that it could be a ploy to dry Trinamool Congress of ample funds ahead of the assembly polls in April-May. 

As the raids on deep pockets of West Bengal are picking up, the ruling dispensation of the state are up to their own device. Income-Tax officers themselves are under arrest-threat on the allegation that a few Chartered Accountants are helping them with “inside” dope on unaccounted money. A classic case where the message is ignored but the messenger is punished. 

Media looking the other way to the happenings in West Bengal could imply only one thing: The most anticipated assembly election in India since 2017 UP polls has been put in deep freezer by our morning rags. If it becomes free for all; when the State defies Centre or Supreme Court; when Election Commission (EC) is worried on the safety of its officers; when political deaths occupy every tray of morgue; when India’s internal security is deeply tied to these polls, our media barons would rather worry about a comedian in Madhya Pradesh. 

And we had all along thought that Bad News is Good News for media. In some cases, it’s No News. 




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