"Mitra has been arrested on prima facie evidence of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation as well as deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha group," Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said.

Mitra's arrest, coming after months of speculation that he could be in trouble with regard to the scam, came after many hours of grilling spread over two sessions by CBI sleuths at the agency office here.

The 57-year-old minister, who had headed the Saradha employees' union, evaded the CBI questioning for some time citing health grounds.

He was even hospitalised when he complained of illness. He first got admitted in a nursing home and later shifted to the government-run SSKM Hospital where he was said to have complained of a "panic attack".

Upon his discharge from the hospital on November 26, Mitra approached the CBI and expressed his desire to appear for the questioning.

Six days back, Mitra admitted he was feeling "tensed" in facing the grilling.


"I can't deny that I am suffering from tension in facing questioning by the CBI. That's because I need to prepare myself to reply to their questions which will help them get to the bottom of the matter," Mitra said on December 6.

While he has repeatedly denied allegations of his involvement in the scam, Mitra participated in several Saradha programmes and heaped praises on group chairman Sudipto Sen for creating job opportunities for thousands of people and assured help if the group faced any difficulties.

"Sudipto Sen knows how to make an ocean out of droplets. Work well, we are with you," Mitra was captured on tape saying at one such programme.

He is the fourth Trinamool leader to be arrested after the scam came to light last year.

Suspended Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh was arrested by police in November last year, before the CBI nabbed parliamentarian Srinjoy Bose and party functionary Rajat Majumdar.

Ghosh had named many party colleagues, including Mitra, in a "tell-all" video that was made public after his arrest.

In the video, Ghosh gave details of how and what relations they shared with Sen and his company and asserted they can help the investigators. Prior to his arrest and even afterwards, Ghosh has time and again called for Mitra's questioning, claiming he knew how Sen, a small-time businessman, "made a meteoric rise".

Mitra had earlier asserted that he would resign as minister if his link with the Saradha group was proved.

The CBI has already recorded the statement of Bapi Karim, Mitra's former confidential assistant.

The CBI also arrested scam kingpin Sudipto Sen's legal advisor Naresh Balodia."

The CBI also arrested Naresh Balodia, legal advisor to Sudipto Sen and Saradha group, on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and diversion of funds in the same case," CBI spokesperson Prasad added.

Mitra's arrest as 'illegal and unconstitutional': Mamata

Following the arrest of West Bengal minister Madan Mitra in connection with the Saradha chit fund scandal, an angry Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the BJP for "misusing power", and charged the CBI with "acting as per a sequence" of arrests given by a BJP leader during a recent rally here.

"A few days ago, a BJP leader held a rally in Kolkata. He gave the sequence of arrests. The CBI is acting as per that sequence," Banerjee, also the Trinamool chairperson, told media persons a little after Mitra was taken into custody by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

"He was called as a witness. Within a few hours, he was arrested. Isn't this political vendetta?"After coming to power, we never arrested anyone based on political vendetta," Banerjee said.

The Chief Minister termed the CBI move "illegal and unconstitutional".

"The BJP is misusing power. What the CBI has done is wrong. It is illegal, unconstitutional," she said.

Banerjee said the central agency has set a "bad precedent" by arresting a minister without informing the government or the assembly speaker.

Mishra demands interrogation of Mamata Banerjee

Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra on Friday demanded immediate questioning of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and others in Saradha scam case.
    
"We will now hit the streets with this demand and demands for action against other ponzi companies as also refund of money to the cheated depositors," Mishra said.

Mitra was arrested by the CBI after five hours of interrogation at the Salt Lake CGO complex in Kolkata at around 11 AM.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made around the CGO complex housing the CBI office.
    
The special crime branch of CBI probing the Saradha scam, had served summons on Mitra last month to appear before the agency for questioning.

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