Remember 4th of February 2019, Chief minister of West Bengal, Mamatha Banerjee’s sit-down calling out to ‘save democracy’???!!!!
She accompanied the tainted Kolkata Police Chief Rajeev Kumar, whom CBI wanted to question related to infamous ‘Sarada chit fund scam’. Mamatha Banerjee accused centre for causing constitutional breakdown and a huge showdown between Kolkata Police and CBI had taken place.
Now, In a major setback to former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, the Kolkata High Court on Friday refused, granting him protection from arrest in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.
What is ‘Sarada chit fund scam’? Can its probe knock West Bengal’s chief minister’s door?
In the early 2000s, businessman Sudipto Sen set up the Saradha Group and launched collective investment scheme.
The Saradha Group used a consortium of companies to tap small investors, promising them very high returns. Like in a classic Ponzi scheme, money was collected through a wide network of agents, who were paid commissions of over 25%.
In a few years, Saradha’s raised about Rs 2,500 crore. It built its brand through filmstar endorsements, investments in popular football clubs, ownership of multiple media outlets, and sponsorship of cultural events such as Durga Pujas. The scheme expanded to Odisha, Assam, and Tripura, and the number of investors reached close to 17 lakh.
Through schemes involving tourism packages, forward travel and hotel booking, timeshare credit transfer, real estate, infrastructure finance, and motorcycle manufacturing, the Saradha Group continued to raise capital from ordinary people. The bulk of the investors put in around Rs 50,000 each.
Many others invested through chit funds under the Chit Fund Act, 1982. Chit funds are regulated by the state government.
By April 2013, the scheme had collapsed, and investors and agents lodged hundreds of complaints with the Bidhannagar Police. Sudipto Sen fled West Bengal after writing an 18-page letter, in which he accused several politicians of arm-twisting him into making poor investments that led the company to collapse.
An FIR was registered, and Sen was arrested along with his associate Debjani Mukherjee in Sonmarg on April 20, 2013.
What role did Mamatha Banerjee’s TMC played?
According to a report published by the Special Investigation Team set up by the West Bengal government, Saradha’s annual collections went up from Rs 15 million at inception to Rs 10.08 billion in 2011-12 and Rs 8.5 billion in 2012-13, when Banerjee was chief minister.
In 2011-12, the Saradha group spent millions of rupees sponsoring cycles, motorcycles, ambulances etc that Banerjee distributed among the people in Jangalmahal and other backward areas of Bengal.
It was at this time that the state government also issued circulars to only keep newspapers owned by the chit fund group in all government libraries.
Saradha group owner Sudipta Sen would conduct meetings at his office usually past midnight and use Kolkata police motorcycles to commute.
No one can deny that the group was nurtured with much care during the Trinamool Congress government’s tenure. And for that , Mamata Banerjee needs to own up responsibility.
Mamatha Banerjee who sat down for Dharna conveniently forgot her spat with the UPA Government.
In 2013, opposing FDA in retail, Mamatha Banerjee supported her arch rivals leftists to bring a no confidence motion on UPA.
But what caused her to do so?
Banerjee was under pressure from investigations against a company owned by a TMC Rajya Sabha member and also against various chit funds in West Bengal, especially Saradha.
Congress leader and advocate Arunava Ghosh had said ‘Mamata had no other option but to leave the coalition. She must have realised that the game was over.’
And, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to investigate the Saradha case in May 2014, while the UPA government was on its last legs.
So, while FDI in retail may have given a face-saver to exit UPA, many believe the real reason was the scam.
Sarada scam’ s connection with Burdwan blasts:
The National Investigation Agency and the CBI are looking into allegations that Ahmed Hassan Imran, TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP, had sent Saradha funds to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen modules whose existence came to the forefront after a blast at Khagragarh in Burdwan district.
The investigators had summoned Imran for questioning soon after the blast.
According to media reports, Imran is the co-founder of Students Islamic Movement of India at the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh and became the president of its Bengal unit.
Though he quit his post in 1980, he remained a spokesperson of SIMI till it was banned in 2001.
In 1981, he started publishing Kalom, a monthly Bengali journal of SIMI. Launched as a monthly magazine, Kalom turned into a newspaper after the Saradha group bought it in 2011. Kalom was owned by the Saradha group till 2013.
It was one of the newspapers that (Mamata) Banerjee dictated all state government libraries should subscribe to.
Chief Minister of a state, breaks all honours bestowed upon her by the Constitution, and comes down for Dharna on streets, for what?
To protect scamsters and anti national elements.
And by questioning those related with her and with the scam becomes dangerous to democracy and constitution. How can anyone be so illogical?
When a hollow is set on fire, it’s natural for the rodents to scream and run…..
Dr Sindhu Prashanth