Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh, an accused in the multi-crore Saradha scam, took 26 sleeping pills in an alleged suicide bid inside the Kolkata jail where he has been locked up for the past year.
Ghosh, who was the CEO of Saradha’s media wing at the time the Ponzi scheme at the company unravelled, was rushed to hospital where doctors said his condition was stable.
The one-time close confidant of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had threatened this week to end his life if the CBI failed to take action against others involved in the scam.
Jail authorities filed an FIR against Ghosh as attempted suicide is a criminal offence.
"According to a complaint lodged by jail authorities, a case has been registered against Kunal Ghosh u/s section 309 of IPC," said Rajeev Mishra, joint commissioner (headquarters) of Kolkata Police.
A hospital official said Ghosh told doctors in the emergency department that he had consumed 26 pills.
“A six-member medical board has been formed to treat him. He is stable now. The team will decide when to discharge him,” said Pradip Mitra, director of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research. “The contents of his stomach have been sent for forensic test.”
Prison officials failed to explain how the suspended Trinamool Congress leader managed to procure the sedatives despite being lodged in a high-security cell at the Presidency jail with two guards keeping watch.
“He was extremely depressed even during the last hearing (on Monday). We informed the court too. It is surprising how sedatives find their way inside the jail,” said Ghosh's lawyer, Soumyajit Raha.
Three letters were found in Ghosh's jail cell, sources said. One was addressed to the Chief Justice of India, another to the chief justice of the Calcutta High Court and the third to Saradha investors.
The chief minister suspended the jail superintendent as well as the doctor and nurse on duty while the state government set up a committee to probe the incident.
The incident triggered a torrent of questions from opposition leaders who said there could be a conspiracy to eliminate Ghosh by the real architects of the scam.
“If Kunal dies who will benefit? They will be senior Trinamool Congress leaders against whom he has been spilling the beans for a long time. People will take this incident as a conspiracy,” said senior state Congress leader Abdul Mannan.
The Saradha scam has turned into a major embarrassment for Trinamool chief Banerjee who has been accused by opposition parties of trying to shield some of the beneficiaries of the company’s slush funds.
The scam was caused by the collapse of an investment operation from the Saradha Group, a consortium of over 200 private firms that was running many unlicensed financial schemes in eastern India.
The group folded up in April last year, resulting in the loss of hundreds of crores to thousands of investors — largely from rural areas with little access to banking facilities.
During a court hearing in September, Ghosh said he was being unjustly kept behind bars while bigger beneficiaries of the scam were inaugurating community Durga Puja ceremonies.
Early on Friday, a guard deployed outside Ghosh’s cell saw the MP unconscious and informed jail officials. The local police were called and Ghosh was taken to hospital.