By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Kolkata, Sep 11 (SocialNews.XYZ) At a time when many thought that dust has settled over the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam and the probe by the central agencies in the matter, the scandal has once again surfaced.
Two contradictory letters have resurrected the scam that left lakhs of ordinary investors in a desperate situation in the opening years of the last decade. One letter is from the Saradha Group's founder chairman, Sudipta Sen, which he wrote to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last year before the West Bengal assembly polls, accusing the current leader of the state assembly, Suvendu Adhikari and some CPI(M) leaders of being the beneficiaries in the scam,
The second letter that surfaced as late as September 8, was forwarded to the CBI by Sarbari Mukherjee, mother of Sudipta Sen's once second-in-command in Saradha affairs, Debjani Mukherjee. In that letter, Sarbari Mukherjee has accused Abhijit Mukherjee, an inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal police of putting pressure on her daughter to name Suvendu Adhikari and the CPI(M) central committee member, Sujan Chakraborty as beneficiaries of the Ponzi scam.
Both Sudipta Sen and Debjani Mukherjee are in judicial custody.
While the CID-West Bengal has issued a statement claiming that the allegations on this count are baseless, the floodgates of political mud-slinging have opened where these two contradictory letters have become tools for the two opposing forces, namely the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition like the BJP and the CPI(M).
While Suvendu Adhikari has reacted by describing the CID-West Bengal as the janitor of the ruling Trinamool Congress, Sujan Chakraborty has portrayed the development as political vendetta.
Trinamool Congress spokesman Kunal Ghosh, who has always been vocal against Adhikari even when both were associated with the Trinamool Congress, has ridiculed the Leader of Opposition for being too excited about the letter from Debjani Mukherjee's mother to the CBI.
"Why is Suvendu Adhikari so excited about this letter? Was he expecting such a letter that will relieve the pressure on him to an extent? It seems he has toiled to manage this letter from Debjani Mukherjee's mother. But he will not escape by making this letter his shield, especially when Sudipta Sen in his letter to the CBI has clearly accused Adhikari of extorting money from him through arm twisting. At the same time, Sen has directly named him on this count while speaking to the media," Ghosh said.
The CPI(M) central committee member, Sujan Chakraborty said that since the beginning the ruling Trinamool Congress has been busy shielding its leaders who had been beneficiaries in the Saradha scam while the BJP has tried to garner political mileage from the entire issue. "But such intimidation of an undertrial, who has been imprisoned for the last nine years, is something unthinkable and unheard of. However, we will not succumb to any such pressure. I wonder why Trinamool Congress is still so scared of CPI(M), which does not have a single representative in the West Bengal assembly," he added.
According to Bishwanath Chakraborty, a representative of the Chit Fund Sufferers' Unity Forum, an association demanding the return of the duped money to the depositors, this political slugfest between the ruling and the opposition parties will take the investors nowhere. "Since CBI and ED started their probe in the matter in the last decade, we had been hearing that the final investigation report might come any time and arrangements will be made for return of money to the depositors by putting the properties and assets of the chit fund entities on sale through auction. But neither the investigation is on track nor the chances of the depositors getting back their hard-earned money," he said.
Explaining the legal process of recovery through auction and simultaneous distribution to the depositors, Calcutta High Court counsel Jyoti Prakash Khan said that the auction process can start only after a court order is specifically given on this count. "That court order will come only after the investigation process is completed and the final conviction in the court is made. Only then the court will direct any government machinery to put the property and assets of the chit fund entities on auction. However, for that the first thing required is completion of the investigation process."
Kanak Gayan, who works as a maid in Kolkata and her son, Prashanta Gayan, invested in a one-time deposit scheme run by the Saradha Group that promised monthly returns of Rs 5,000 for five years and at the end of the five-year period the principal money will be returned along with a bonus. "The monthly payments came for the first couple of months and after that they stopped coming. The agent also absconded. Now our money is lost. I heard from the members of the family where I work as a maid that investigation has started and till date, I am hearing that the investigation process is on. I have lost all hope to get back the money," she said.