Frustrated depositors and agents on Saturday vented their anger by ransacking Saradha offices across West Bengal. An agent in Durgapur committed suicide yesterday as news of Saradha promoter’s disappearance broke. Depositors had apparently turned up at his door to claim their money. The incident brought back memories of a similar crisis that gripped Bengal in the 1970s, when the Sanchayita chit fund went bust, leaving thousands in the lurch. Reports of vandalism and violence poured in from across the state. Agents and depositors went on a rampage in Durgapur, Domjur, Siliguri, Kanthi and in some places there were clashes between depositors and agents. Agents, who laid siege to the chief minister’s house yesterday, also landed up at the Trinamool Bhavan. Some claimed that proximity to the Trinamool leadership had lent credence to the Saradha Group. While some claimed that Trinamool Member of Parliament (MP) Satabdi Roy was the brand ambassador, others said that the transport minister, Madan Mitra was the president of one of the employees’ union. Mitra, however, denied any kind of involvement. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which was on backfoot after the assault on Mamata Banerjee and Amit Mitra in Delhi, on Saturday found its voice back.
CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim claimed the Saradha promoter, Sudipta Sen, had been given asylum by TMC. “They have already got hold of him. They are trying to arrive at a deal that could save both the parties (TMC & Sudipta Sen),” he said. He also demanded that central agencies should take up the case, given the proximity of the state government to the Saradha Group. The Congress, too, demanded the case be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). “Many have lost money and jobs. The TMC provided shelter to the chit fund companies. There be a thorough investigation by the Sebi and CBI. We will demonstrate against this on April 23 across the state,” said Pradip Bhattacharya, president, state Congress. He added TMC come out with a white paper on links with the Saradha Group. Bidhannagar Police said all the necessary steps were taken so that Sen could not leave the country. All the immovable properties of Sudipta Sen has been seized and the bank accounts’ debit has been freezed. “We have informed all the important terminals about Sen. We have arrested one of the directors who was on board of Saradha Realty Pvt Ltd and Saradha Printing and Publishing Pvt Ltd. Efforts are on to catch other directors,” said Bidhannagar Police. It has also asked the firm, which had developed software for the company , to provide back up data. Union minister of state for railways, Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, said the Saradha Group had paid the highest amount for Mamata Banerjee’s paintings. Mukul Roy, general secretary of TMC, blamed the Left Front regime for the chit fund fiasco, saying these companies were formed in the earlier regime. Asked if the government was mulling action against other chit fund companies, Roy said, “We are trying to find a method.” Roy said there was nothing wrong if Mitra was heading any employees’ association.