A tree sprouting new leaves is the visual that greets one on clicking open the site of the Saradha Group.
“You wish … we fulfil,” it declares, proclaiming itself as a Kalpataru (Kalpa Vriksh) which has branched out to fields as diverse as realty, construction, agro development, silk manufacturing, exports, investment banking, automobiles and media.
The website, however gives little inkling of the havoc that the group has played with the livelihood of nearly a thousand people who lost their jobs as the group decided to shut down its media business three years after its launch.
The media basket was crammed with multi-edition dailies in English, Bengali and Urdu, a celebrity-edited lifestyle magazine and multiple television channels. These include English daily Bengal Post, which had an edition in Siliguri, Bengali daily Sakalbela, Kalam, an urdu daily, and Paroma, a lifestyle magazine.
Robbed of their salaries for nearly three months, the hapless employees were dismissed summarily with a five-day notice ending on March 31. For some it was April 14.
Senior journalists, who had quit national media houses, lured by promises of a great future, today find their dreams shattered. The group has defaulted on statutory payments like income tax and provident fund deposits.
“We have not received any provident fund statement,” a former employee said, adding that despite repeated requests, Form 16 was not given for 2011-12 and 2012-13, and they were now income tax defaulters.
A former Bengal Post employee has poured herself out on Facebook detailing how the closure has affected the lives of many of her colleagues and how she is left running from pillar to post after giving her best to Bengal Post. This media venture was the boldest and hence its failure was spectacular.
But a few others, like Pratyahik Khabor, another Bengali daily started two years ago, also quietly shut shop on March 31, once again after defaulting in salary payments for two months, according to an employee.