New Delhi: Investors of Saradha Group has been shattered after the reports of the chit fund company’s collapse. While the angry depositors have hit the streets demanding their savings back, the political parties seem to be busy in diluting the matter.
Angry investors, who had deposited money with the chit-fund company Saradha Group, blocked roads, highways and protested outside the company's office in Jalpaiguri district. The investors protested against non-payment of their dues and raised their decibel levels for the arrest of the company's managers.
Three staff arrested, MD still at large
Though three persons, including two agents and one director, associated with the 'chit fund' company have been arrested following complaints against them by investors but its Chairman and Managing Director Sudipta Sen is still at large. The West Bengal government has already ordered for Sen’s arrest.
With a huge backlog in making payments to the investors, the Saradha Group is virtually on the verge of collapse. Financial mismanagement, which surfaced recently, forced the group to wind up it’s at least 10 media organizations, including newspapers and television channels it had launched or acquired since 2010-11.
Saradha Group is one of the largest chit fund companies in eastern India. It has also diversified into capital in several fields including construction, realty, tourism, hospitality, agri-businesses and media.
Blame game continues
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced a high-level inquiry and a SIT probe into the collapse of chit fund company Saradha Group that has left thousands of investors in the lurch even as she sought to blame the Centre for the fiasco.
Stating that strong laws were needed to curb the illegal activities of chit funds, Banerjee said since their operations were governed by central laws and not by the state government, "the onus lies with the central government."
Expressing concern over the Saradha episode, the Trinamool supremo said "for quite a few years, some chit funds were deceiving poor investors promising high returns. This has been continuing since the 80s in this state."
CPI (M), on its part, accused the Trinamool government of supporting chit fund companies, saying the Left parties had been warning the Centre for the past few years that these firms were ‘looting’ poor people in the state.
Asim Dasgupta, who was the long-serving finance minister in the erstwhile Left Front government, brushed aside allegations by the TMC regime that the businesses of chit funds had mushroomed during the Left Front regime.
"It is an absolutely baseless allegation. Either they don't know it or they are trying to mislead the people. The approval to these firms are given by Registrar of Companies under the Union Commerce Ministry and other financial institutions of the central government. The state has no role in their approval," Dasgupta claimed.
He said that about 100 chit fund companies were operating in the state, out of which 15 are big firms and in last few years they accumulated more than Rs 30,000 crore.
Echoing the same voice, Congress too accused the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal of aiding the company. Stating that the Centre had alerted the state on the issue of chit funds, WBPCC President Pradip Bhattacharya alleged "Unfortunately the state government did not take steps as some individuals in the ruling party had close links with the group.
BJP for CBI probe into chit funds
The BJP on Tuesday demanded a CBI probe into the functioning of chitfund companies including the Saradha Group in West Bengal, alleging that the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress aided them.
"We demand a CBI inquiry into the chit fund scam. The scam has taken place with the help of the CPI(M) and TMC in West Bengal. When CPI(M) was in power they had helped these firms to flourish and when the Trinamool is in power they also did the same," BJP state president Rahul Sinha told reporters.
Without naming Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh who was the Group Media CEO of the Saradha Group, Sinha said "Why is he not being arrested? All those guilty should be arrested immediately." Sinha also appealed to the people who invested in other chit fund companies to immediately withdraw their money as such companies would meet the same fate as the Saradha Group. The chairman of Saradha group, Sudipto Sen, was detained today in Sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir.