I Need Protection and Your Urgent Action on the ‘Palm Place Syndicate’ Benami (Fake) Bank Accounts: My Letter To @RBI @RBIGov @dir_ed and @Kolkata_Police

On 16 Nov, 2015, I Had Sent the Following Letter to The Offices Addressed Below, Requesting Protection and Urgent Action on  Benami (Fake) Bank Accounts under the Name “Palm Place Syndicate,” And on the Criminal Nexus Involved, Who Are a Serious Threat to Me and My Mother’s Safety

TO: Mr. Gaurav Sharma, DC of Police, SE Division, Kolkata
TO: Mr. Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai
TO: Mr. Karnal Singh, Director, Enforcement Directorate, New Delhi

1. I have enclosed in the letter for Mr. Gaurav Sharma, DC Police, SE, Kolkata, a cheque (no.689087 of SBI) from my mother, Indira Banerji of the amount Rs.6000/- made out A/C Payee to “Palm Place Syndicate.” This is the benami (fake) bank account (S/B 04770100017689 in Indian Overseas Bank, Ballygunge Park Rd., Kolkata), I have already complained about to all your offices. We’ve been forced to put Rs.1,04,000/- into this account since June 2015, due to harassment, threats, assault and destruction of our property. I am writing, because we cannot take this anymore and we urgently need the police, RBI and ED to take action on these accounts and on the individuals involved in this extortion nexus to ensure our safety. The banks have refused to act as it involves internal corruption. Karaya police station has not acted despite our FIRs on extortion, assault, and property damage (FIR 217, FIR 292, FIR 539). [See Appendix 21]

2. At the back of the check my mother has written this note to explain why she is sending it:
“I, Indira Banerji, do not want to put this money in the account S/B 04770100017689 which is under the name ‘Palm Place Syndicate.’ But I have been forced under threat, violence and other pressure to deposit this and other cheques by the following:
1) Biman Dhar (Address, Phone)
2) Prem Prakash Sahoo (Address, Phone)
3) Somnath Bhattacharyya (HR, Premiere World Tech Ltd., Address, Phone)
4) Michael J. Pook (Employee of Premier World Tech, Occupant of Indira Banerji’s flat no.7 for 28 years, Phone)
5) A.K. Ghosh (Victor Moses Co., Address; phone)
I am asking Mr. Gaurav Sharma (D.C. Police, SE) to give the check to one of the five above , if he thinks this is right.”

3. In October 2014, I discovered the ‘Palm Place Syndicate’ account in the Standard Chartered Bank (a/c 33610022158) into which these men had been making my mother put money for “maintenance” of her ownership flats for many years, is a benami (fake) account. The account has no registration, PAN, identity proof, or address proof, and had been in the bank’s legal cell since 2010. We found this out when Mr. Biman Dhar, Mr. Nikhilesh Chandra Roy [phone], Mr. Prem Prakash Sahoo and Mr. Pinakpani Chakravarti [phone], conspired to make my mother, Indira Banerji a signatory to that account in Sept 2014, by saying they now wanted a “lady” to take care of the “building society account.” I discovered that the account had already been served the final legal closure notice two months prior to that. Prior to this, they had blocked my mother from any access to this bank account even though with two flats she is a majority flat owner in the building. [See Appendix 1, 3, 7, 8]

4. They also pulled out all the money in the account through K.R. Sriram, the auditor who (I then realized) had been making fake audit reports on Palm Place Syndicate’s benami bank account till 2013. Mr. Sriram has refused to communicate with us. [See Appendix 4, 10, 11, 12]

5. Mr. Biman Dhar and the other flat owners have refused to give us any proof of registration and byelaws for ‘Palm Place Syndicate’ as a registered building society. They make random demands for large sums of money and make us deposit the money directly in the account without giving any receipt. They make random cash withdrawals, write checks to ‘self’, give fake name of companies for repair and paints, and refuse to provide any bills, accounts or receipts for money taken or used. Their demands keep escalating and now they want in lakhs. They have conspired to harass us by sabotaging our drinking water, destroying our property, and physical violence. They are doing this because there are no official documents, and they are using the benami accounts to extort money but likely also for other illegal activities. We don’t know how many benami accounts in how many banks they have under this name of ‘Palm Place Syndicate,’ or what activities they are used for. One owner, Mrs. Ruchi Jain [phone] told us she had also opened an account with Mr. Dhar in Read the full post »

Why Indian Women Pray for Long Lives for their Husbands Even as Millions are Killed for Dowry


Last week millions of Hindu women proudly celebrated a festival whose fundamental tenet is misogynistic. This is the festival of Karva Chauth. Women deprive themselves of food and water all day, and after sunset break their fast after they’ve viewed the moon through a kitchen sieve. They’ve been told that if they do this, the gods will ensure long lives for their husbands. In a country where every year, more than a 100,000 married women are murdered for dowry — burnt, hung, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, or driven to suicide — by their husbands and in-laws, and not a day goes by without media reports of such deaths, this womanly fixation on ensuring a long life for the husband seems sort of bizarre. But there is a cultural explanation for Indian women’s fixation on their husbands’ long lives….

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE http://www.huffingtonpost.in/rita-banerji-/karva-chauth-a-womanly-ce_b_8429386.html

As a feminist activist in India here’s what I went through to file an FIR with the police!

An FIR (First information report) has to be filed with the police to initiate investigation of any crime in India.  The police often refuse to file an FIR.  And even though as a feminist activist I’m aware of the law and my rights it took me more than 2 weeks to file an FIR case with my local police station for my mother in a case involving threats, extortion and cheating.  Not only that, the FIR report in the police register is not the complaint we submitted.  But we were told either had to accept it as it is, or we don’t any FIR report.

A man in our building, Mr.D, who calls himself the ‘President’ of a flat owners association, that does not not exist on paper, or have any legal or written documents, has been trying to force my mother to put the building maintenance money for her flat into a bank account.  For many years she had been putting money into an account under the name “Palm Place Syndicate”, assuming that even if Mr. D. does not show us any registration or bye-laws, or anything in writing/print showing such an association actually exists, it must exist.  There must be documents, otherwise how can the bank allow for an account to exist under the name “Palm Place Syndicate.”  And then in October 2014, we discovered that account was in the banks own legal department because it had no documents! No registration, bye-laws, identity — nothing!  And the way we found out was that Mr. D. invited my mother to be a signatory to the account without telling her that the account was in legal trouble and faced RBI closure.  We then also found out  the account was not even set up as a building society account, but Mr.D’s business partnership account. One of his business partners was a man who had sold his flat and didn’t even live in our building. The third business “partner” was a man who had been dead for 10 years!

Why should we be putting money into someone’s business partnership account? So we stopped putting money into that account. In the meantime, in November 2014, Mr. D. pulled out 90% of the funds in the account and then for the next 4 months went all quiet.  We heard he was trying to open a similar business partnership account in other banks.  I imagine without documents it would be hard.  But not impossible. For by end of March 2015, he managed to open a new account — another business partnership account, with undisclosed “business partners.”  Then he demanded we put our maintenance money in there directly with a penalty for late payment based on a building bye-law which does not exist on paper, and he refuses to provide us a copy.  When we refused to put money into this account (we’d been voluntarily doing so in the last one unaware of his set-up!) Mr.D started threatening us.  He said he’d turn off our water, electricity and put more penalty on us.  Interestingly, we had managed to get printout of the last bank account, and we don’t see very many monthly maintenance payments by Mr. D. himself! But he thinks he’s not required to provide audits and accounts either!

When we went to the police to file an FIR for fraud, criminal intimidation and extortion against Mr.D, they refused to register the complaint and wrote a general police diary. They also refused to give us the carbon copy of the report we filed. Then we went to the next higher up, the DC – deputy commissioner of police who ordered an FIR.  However, again, the sub-inspector, (the same one who did the General Police Diary the last time) they took our carbon copy to stamp but refused to stamp and give it back. He gave a little slip saying – come and get the FIR report tomorrow. Next day he wasn’t there and they couldn’t find it. We kicked up a fuss and finally I saw the FIR report in the police register. The sub inspector who wrote it had filed a wrong story, saying there was attempt to extort money through threats of grievous injury.  Mr.D had 4 years ago attempted to physically push my mother over another matter, and the police had refuse to file an assault FIR then too.  However in the current case we cannot yet complain of or prove physical threats.

So we objected but the police refused to change the FIR report. Then they said that we don’t get a copy of the FIR report because it’s an internal thing.  They tried to tell us it does not matter, judge will only see your written complaint! Again we had to go back to the Deputy commissioner of Police.  It still wasn’t easy.  They tried to give us a copy of our written formal complaint with the police stamp, signature and penal code it was submitted under, blanked out.  It looked like it had been covered with a blank paper on the margin and photocopied.  We did get — but after another bout of fighting. We refused to sign the FIR report with the wrong story.  They said, this is the only one you get. Like it or leave it!  We finally decided to sign at the back — stating simply received a copy of the FIR without signing the bottom of the form accepting the report as true.

We’ve been told this happens! And that it’s OK. The police file different stories from the one’s the complainants file! And that eventually the court will look at what you’ve written.  Will it? I don’t know. And why should there be a wrong story officially filed in the police register?

So I ask other Indian women activists, lawyers, and anyone else reading this – please advise me on what to do. It’s been 6 months of hell and I’ve knocked on dozens of doors – lawyers, NGOs, government offices, consumer affairs, RBI.

Also I’d appreciate any advice on what can I do about Mr.D?

Who Silenced Anjali Bhushan , Indian Co-Producer of #IndiasDaughter Film, and Why?


Anjali Bhushan was the Indian Co-Producer of the new “India’s Daughter” documentary on the Delhi gang rape, and a big mystery because even though her name was repeatedly mentioned in media articles, introducing this film to India as a joint Indian-British venture, Bhushan wasn’t seen or even heard from. It’s now clear that Bhushan’s involvement was necessary for the team to get access to Tihar’s high security prison, since Leslee Udwin, the director, as a foreigner may not have got access. Interestingly, though some vaguely speculated that Bhushan was in hiding, the Indian and western media have been oddly silent on the question of the “missing producer.” Stranger still, from her statement now, she had contacted them!

Then The Hindustan Times published the piece below, written by Bhusan in the first person, explaining her role in this film and what had really happened. Her assertions are scandalous and answer questions that have been raised about official procedures and the aim of the director. What is more odd is how HT was forced to remove this content. The same had happened a few weeks ago with one newspaper reporting on Pachauri’s sexual harassment case and then being forced to remove it. Of course soon after as other women came forward, all the media houses were compelled to report it. What’s most odd, is while the media loudly protests the ban on “India’s Daughter” as muzzling of free-speech, it deliberately mutes a journalist whose statement and experience shows the dark underbelly of the making of this film, and indeed exposes issues with ethics and exploitative abuse within the journalistic community, with an eye to fame and capital gain.


By Anjali Bhushan in The Hindustan Times

Make no mistake. Rape is a heinous crime. When public anger over the Nirbhaya incident boiled over, the question which confronted our society was how a human being could be driven to commit acts of such depravity. Although, it is said that the moral compass of all criminals is skewed the brutality of this incident made it necessary from a social viewpoint to examine the question of where such behaviour stems from.

The documentary “India’s Daughter” was therefore conceived to serve a social cause which was unfortunately overshadowed by the self-promoting agenda of my collaborator, Ms. Leslee Udwin. I had fallen out with her by the time that the principle photography of the film was completed and was conveniently excluded from the final edits.

Subsequently, her attempt to exploit the subject matter of the documentary in a self-advancing attempt to sensationalize the content has not only brought disrepute to my profession and the country but also resulted in hurting the sentiments of the victims of rape who would invariably be exposed to the film. Granted editorial and journalistic privilege, there is also a particular sensibility that should be a guiding factor as an ethical standard.

This is the same sensibility because of which the international media decides against telecasting the brutal immolation of a Jordanian pilot by terrorists. The social message which is the very essence of the film I wanted to make is now lost in the unfortunate controversy which has followed. When one edits several hours of footage, it is this sensibility, suitably deployed, which comes into play. It was this ‘sensibility’ which I was not able to exercise having been prevented by Ms. Leslee Udwin from participating in the post-assembly review of the film. And it was the lack of exercise of this ‘sensibility’ on her part, (having denied herself of my input as an Indian woman), in a cynical attempt to capture eyeballs and headlines which has led to the unfortunate controversy which will continue to cast a shadow on her career as a film maker.

The story does not end here. Regardless of her lack of sensibilities and judgment, Ms. Udwin knowingly and cynically breached the conditions and undertakings under which the permissions were granted. It was clear right at the outset that the permission to shoot the documentary was conditional upon the viewing of the unedited footage and the final cut by the authorities. Having completed the shooting, Ms. Udwin arrogantly refused to comply. On being shown snippets of the film, the authorities at Tihar Prisons had categorically stated that the comments of the convict were objectionable. The authorities further asked for the full i.e. unedited film to be able to review the same in the proper context. It was reiterated that the film should not be released till it is approved by the prison authorities and the Ministry.

When Ms. Udwin categorically refuted this demand by Tihar Prisons, I was horrified especially since I had repeatedly pleaded with her to comply with all conditions and formalities. Ultimately, in September 2014, I received a letter from Ms. Udwin’s lawyers terminating our agreements. One of the grounds of termination was that my warnings had in fact led to the DG (Prisons) sending a legal notice to her company on the grounds of breach of permissions granted by the jail authorities!

Subsequently, when I accidently stumbled upon the fact that plans to release the documentary were afoot, I was both angry and surprised, since I had been informed that the BBC will not air the documentary until the Supreme Court hearings were over. I immediately proceeded to warn the media houses planning to telecast the film, both about the fact that permission to do so had not been received and also the fact that the matter was still sub judice.

That despite my warnings the documentary, which includes an abominable portrayal of the issue, was still aired is a sad reflection of the triumph of the personal ambition of a producer who valued publicity and international recognition over the social agenda of the entire production.

(This is the full statement of co-producer of controversial documentary “India’s Daughter”. Views expressed are personal)

This is the link to the Hindustan Times article in the Google cache which the newspaper it appears was compelled to remove.


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