How Bengal’s chit fund crooks exposed the media


Anchors and presenters of Tara Muzik, which shut down recently, console each other on live TV (courtesy The Indian Express)

The 16th week of the year of the lord 2013 has been a gruesome one for Indian journalism in general and Bengali journalism in particular.

In the space of just a few hours every conceivable cliche and charge about modern media folk—that we are corrupt; that we can be bought over; that we have become extortionists; that we have become partners, even abettors, in crime of politicians and corporates; that the interests of the common man and woman is last on our radar; that the media is now a shield for wrong-doing—came true as an 18-page “suicide” note of a chit fund operator became public.

Willy-nilly, Sudipta Sen‘s letter to CBI also revealed how gullible we are, for all the gratuitous advice we dish out on how the world should be run.

Tens of journalists, even some stellar names from the past, joined the newspapers and TV stations started by the crooked and corrupt of Bengal, many of which have now shut shop.

In The Telegraph, Calcutta, Sajeda Momin, who covered the Babri masjid demolition for the paper, who returned from London to be the features editor of The Bengal Post, a paper which Sen started with his funny money, recounts the experience:

It was May 2010 when I received a phone call in London from a former Statesman colleague that he was helping launch a new English newspaper in Calcutta and would like me on board. I asked the normal question all journalists ask when it is a new paper: “Who is funding it?”

His reply was very reassuring. He is a Bengali businessman who has a variety of business interests in land, agro-products, travel, etc, and wants to venture into the media.

“Does he have enough money to sustain a newspaper?” was my next question as we know that keeping a daily newspaper going is a costly business with no hope of seeing any returns for a few years.

““Oh yes, he has mines in Australia, land and business interests in West Bengal and Odisha, and is looking to expand in the Northeast and has promised that he has enough money put aside to run the newspaper for the next five years,” came the reply. So I took the plunge and landed in Calcutta the following month.

Apart from Ranabir Raychoudhury, the editor of The Bengal Post, as the English paper was to be called, none among the editorial staff had met this elusive Mr Sen. Ironically, even friends in the business community knew very little about Sudipta Sen and his companies, despite his having so much money that he could fund not one but two newspapers.”


  1. This is the new(or you call nasty?) trend in India journalism. Crooks get into media,know nothing about the sanctity of the press and their only interest is to protect their dubious empire.I had some idea about the Bengal Post and many such newspapers/TV channels in Odisha are shutting down.Why hasn’t Justice Katju sermonized yet?

  2. Yes, I do believe that the people who worked for Sudipta Sen’s various media outlets were complicit to some extent. It is said that the staff of the “Bengal Post” were paid their salaries from Sen’s personal account. Often, the cheques would bounce and he would glibly talk them into believing that the next time around, it would not happen when it actually would. Job security is no doubt an issue but the plight of Sen’s media employees is nothing compared to those of the small time investors who put their money into his chit fund. It seems odd that not even even one journalist figured out that something was amiss and raised the alarm! Should one put it down to journalistic obtuseness or journalistic convenience?!

  3. Abhiroop Ghosh Dastidar

    The statement of the writer is full of half truths.She had been among the few honoured persons who were able to contact Mr.Sudipta Sen.Moreover,there were other people who had talked with Mr.Sudipta Sen.The writer didn’t talk with others.

  4. N.Krishnamurthy

    Journalism has become another refuge for a scoundrel! Just because they have money, paper and ink apart from a somewhat writing ability – of late, from the way they write it appears you need not even have this qualification – it does not mean whatever rubbish they spin out is gospel. The press can no more be considered the Fourth Pillar of democracy run by men with Sixth Sense. They have become Fifth Columnists pursuing their own personal ends with nefarious designs!

    1. srinivasan

      well said!

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