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Bengal film industry falls prey to extortionists

Bengal film industry falls prey to extortionists

Author: Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Publication: DNA (Daily News & Analysis)
Date: February 2, 2008
URL: http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1148673

The racket is dominated by gangsters from the Bangladesh underworld and Huji linkmen in the state

The film industry in Kolkata - better known as Tollywood as all its studios are located in a place called Tollygunj - is gradually falling prey to the menace of extortion, which has become a common problem for Bollywood personalities.

But there is a difference. In the case of the Hindi film industry, the extortion demands come from local underworld dons. But in Tollywood, dons from Bangladesh, who have illegally set base in West Bengal, are demanding extortion money.

The state police strongly believes that as in Mumbai, the underworld in Bengal is closely associated with film financing.

While some of these extortionists are gangsters from the Bangladesh underworld, several members of banned terrorist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami (Huji) and Jagrat Muslim Bangladesh (JMB) are also dabbling in this dubious field.

The intelligence branch (IB) of the state police has got information about Bangladeshi extortionists after interrogating three criminals from that country, who were living in West Bengal for quite some time.

While, two of them -Tanvir Joy and H Ahmed-were in the most most-wanted category of criminals from Bangladesh, the third, Fateh Ali, was Huji's local linkman in Nadia district.

The IB sources said while Joy and Ahmed operated from Kolkata, Ali was stationed in Nadia. In the course of interrogation, all the three confessed to extorting money from businessmen and occasionally dabbling in film financing against hefty interests.

They further revealed that the extortion racket in West Bengal is mainly operated by two former civic councilors of the Dhaka municipal corporation.

A senior IB officials told DNA that a number of producers, film distributors and even a couple of popular actors have been victims of their extortion.

"However, none of them have registered any complaint with the police. They preferred to buy peace by paying the extortion amount," the IB official said. He said the trio were owners of multiple houses in different parts of West Bengal.

"We are keeping a close watch on the producers and distributors who often resort to securing finance from the underworld for film-making. We will nab them as and when necessary," the IB official said.

However, he added, that nothing can be done regarding those who have become victims of extortion since they have not lodged any complaint with the police.

- r_sumanta@dnaindia.net

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