Investors of chit fund protest, WB govt promises strong steps

Widespread protests by investors were reported from North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Burdwan districts.

Kolkata: Following statewide protests by depositors and agents against `chit fund` company Saradha Group, which is virtually on the verge of collapse, the West Bengal government on Saturday assured that strict action would be initiated.

Irate depositors of the Saradha Group threw stones at its office on Krishnanath Road in Berhampore town in Murshidabad district during the day demanding their money back.

Superintendent of Police Humayun Kabir said that the police restored order and were investigating.

Widespread protests by investors were reported from North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Burdwan districts, where agents of the chit fund company were chased and heckled by depositors.

Many offices of the chit fund were damaged by the protestors, police sources said.

A Burdwan report said that Jadav Majhi (33), an agent of the group, was found hanging from ceiling of a room at Mayabazar in Durgapur town yesterday.

Police have registered a case of unnatural death.

Transport Minister and senior Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra asked about the government`s responsibility to safeguard the interest of investors said "Strictest action will be taken against defaulters as per our Chief Minister`s instruction."

Trinamool Congress all-India general secretary Mukul Roy said, "I am not in the government, but as party functionary I can tell you that the government is seriously concerned with the functioning of chit funds."

"When a large number of people have been cheated, the government must take action and the chief minister is concerned about it," he said. To a question, Roy said that `some interested quarters` were pointing to the role of a Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member in the functioning of the Saradha group.

"Such allegations are baseless. The Rajya Sabha member of our party is an employee of the group and not a part of the ownership of the group," he said.

Roy rubbished allegations by opposition parties that chit funds had mushroomed during the TMC regime claiming that these companies were patronised by the erstwhile Left Front government.

CPI(M) leader Md Selim claimed that the previous Left Front government had formulated legislation to control chit funds, but it was still awaiting assent.

"This state government should have been careful long back about operations of chit funds to avoid a situation like this," he said.

Bete noire of the Chief Minister, Congress leader and Minister of state for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the state government of being hand in glove with the management of Saradha group.

"This government is directly and indirectly involved with the activities of this chit fund," he alleged.

Union minister and Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi, another Mamata Banerjee baiter, said "It can`t be said that the state government did not know about chit funds. Whom are they shielding? They have to explain."

WBPCC chief Pradip Bhattacharya demanded a CBI probe and said that the state government should bring out a white paper on such non-banking financial companies.

Alleging that many Trinamool Congress leaders were hobnobbing with the chit fund management, he said "The Centre had warned the state government to take action against these chit funds, but it refused to do so. People now demand an answer from the state government."

Trinamool Congress MP Somen Mitra, who had earlier raised his voice against chit funds, said, "I had earlier written to the Prime Minister on the mushrooming of chit funds in the state. Those who deposited their money in chit funds were poor people. They were the worst affected."

Stating that chit funds had existed earlier also, he said, "My responsibility was to alert the government, I have done my job."


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