Saradha teachers at commission door

The Telegraph

AVIJIT SINHA

Siliguri, May 14: Teachers and non-teaching staff of two Saradha Group-run schools here filed complaints at the office of the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission at Himanchal Vihar today.

Some of the staff of the two Lincolns High Schools who submitted complaints said many teachers and non-teaching members had invested in deposit schemes floated by the company since November 2010.

In November 2010, the Saradha Group bought both the schools from a Siliguri businessman. The two schools together have over 900 students.

Some of the staff members today said they had not got their salary this month and they had got only half their pay last month.

“After the Saradha Group took over the school, which has campuses in Milanpally and Karaibari, Sudipta Sen visited the institutions and announced that salaries of each staff member, from sweepers to the principal, would be doubled,” said Dulal Chandra Chattopadhyay, who had served as the principal in one of the schools from November 2011 to June 2012.

“Soon, some of the teaching and non-teaching staff started working as agents of the firm, collecting money from their colleagues and also from outside for different schemes of the Saradha Group,” he said.

“I also made investments of Rs 2 lakh with the group, of which Rs 1 lakh was put in a fixed deposit scheme and another Rs 1 lakh for an MIS scheme,” Chattopadhyay said.

Chattopadhyay, who submitted his complaint for the commission’s hearing today, said that in June last year, Sen suddenly asked him to go on indefinite leave.

“I talked to him and also with Debjani Mukherjee but none of them clarified the reason for sending me on leave and appointing Sampa Dutta Roy (the current principal) in my place. I remained at home for around three months after which, I was instructed to go to Malda, where another school of the group was under construction at Lakkhipur, on the outskirts of the town,” he said.

“I shifted to Malda but had no specific job to do out there. I stayed there for some months and was also promised accommodation. Construction was in progress but suddenly it came to a halt. My salary, which was deposited in a bank account, also stopped. I finally returned to my home in Siliguri in April.”

Dhananjoy Das, a lab assistant of one of the Lincolns High Schools, was present at the commission office today and submitted a complaint in the name of his wife Sanghita Das Bhattacharya.

“Like three-four other teachers and non-teaching staff members of the school, I too became an agent but used my wife’s name and started collecting money from the teaching and non-teaching staff,” Das said.

“I had collected around Rs 42 lakh. My monthly earnings increased and I, too, made some investments,” he said.

“As far as I know, there are four members of staff from the school who worked as Saradha agents. In total, they have collected around Rs 1.25 crore, of which over Rs 50 lakh has been deposited by the teaching and non-teaching staff,” Das said.

Sources in the school said that Sen and Debjani used to visit the institution at regular intervals.

“They used to come around 8pm with agents and other officials, hold meetings till dawn in the school’s conference room. Some of us have attended those meetings and have seen Sen briefing the agents on how to work at the grass roots, convince people to make investments and other things,” a source said.

One of the teachers, who did not want to be named, said: “We got salaries till last month, which was half of the revised salaries. The school is completely functional and the principal, advisor and others have ensured that studies are not affected at any cost. The north Bengal development minister has also assured that the students would not have to face any crisis.”

On April 28, north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb had assured the school that he would discuss the school’s fate with state education minister Bratya Basu.

Sampa Dutta Roy, the school principal who has remained mum over the issue so far, visited the commission office this afternoon.

Office sources later revealed that she had been there to know about the process of submitting complaints.

On being asked about the school and whether they are going to file any complaint, the principal, said, “It is a confidential matter and an internal issue.”

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