CID probe against Duncan’s chairman over closed Bengal tea estates

Kolkata, Nov 2 (IANS) The West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has initiated investigation against Duncan Group of Industries chairman G.P. Goenka and his son over non-payment of wages to workers of their tea estate in north Bengal, an officer said on Monday.

The moves come in the wake of nearly a dozen alleged malnutrition deaths at the company’s Bagrakote Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri estate.

The family members of the victims and trade unions have claimed the deaths were due to starvation and malnutrition, but the state administration has rejected the assertions attributing illness as the reason of death.

“The dues to the workers including certain allowances and wages have not been paid for past few months. A police case was initiated earlier on the matter and now CID has taken up the investigation of the case,” said Inspector General (II) CID Vineet Kumar Goyal.

“We have registered a case against G.P. Goenka and his son under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code,” he added.

In pursuance of the investigation, the CID had summoned Goenka and his son for questioning.

The duo though could not appear and had sent a representative to the CID headquarters in the city.

“There were some outstanding payments. We showed to them (CID) what was outstanding,” said company whole-time director M.H. Chinoy after meeting the CID officers.

In September, Right to Food and Work Campaign (RFWC)- a network of organisations and activists – had submitted a report to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claiming that the closed and abandoned tea estates of the company could trigger a major humanitarian crisis with a population of over 75,000 dependent of the tea gardens “forced to live in near starvation”.

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