When the Saradha Group’s Bengali daily Sakalbela began publication, Mamata Banerjee sent her best wishes. It was more than a customary greeting. It was an impassioned message that seemed to have come from the chief minister’s heart. (Also read: SEBI digs deeper, chit scam gets bigger )
“We will have to pass the dark night to begin our journey in the light of dawn,” she said. “An alert conscience, right direction, truth and fearless news is what people like. Today, many papers have deviated from that principle, and news has assumed personal and commercial dimensions. Let Sakalbela fulfill the people’s aspirations.”
In his 18-page letter to the CBI, Saradha group CMD Sudipta Sen named two Trinamool Congress MPs who he alleged had “blackmailed” him, “forced” him to buy several publications that formed the once formidable bouquet of the group’s media businesses.
TMC leaders including Mamata have consistently denied or downplayed the party’s links with Sen and Saradha. But mounting evidence suggests that the TMC, and its ministers and leaders, had been working closely with the company even before coming to power in Kolkata.
The relationship only grew deeper with time. Evidence of patronage from the Trinamool — for Saradha and other chit fund companies who raised money from poor investors — formed the basis for the plea for a CBI inquiry in a PIL that came up for hearing in Calcutta High Court on Thursday.
* On her maiden visit to Junglemahal after assuming office in July 2011, Mamata took along some “presents” for the people: seven well-equipped ambulances fitted out with critical care units, 50 motorbikes, 1,050 bicycles. All were donated by the Saradha Group.
A Saradha executive called Manoj Nagel is learnt to have told police that these ambulances were later used to ferry “heaps” of cash collected from investors in East and West Midnapore to the company’s head office at Midland Park in Salt Lake, Kolkata.
Asked about these “gifts” recently, Mamata said: “We accepted the charity on good faith, and did not know that these were from ill-gotten money.”
* Around the same time, Mamata donated six trauma care ambulances to Kolkata Police. The vehicles were said to have been bought by the Saradha Group.
* Saradha Realty Private Ltd, the group’s real estate wing, raised money on the promise of ambitious 19-storey residential towers in Contai, East Midnapore. But local municipality rules did not allow more than 14 storeys. So Saradha, with its “deep” reach in the Trinamool government, got the plan sanctioned by the urban development department in Kolkata as a “special case”, a top TMC source said. The project has not started, and investors have ransacked its offices.
* Trinamool sources confirmed that Saradha CMD Sudipta Sen, as a gesture of goodwill, regularly bought Mamata’s paintings. According to one estimate, the group spent over Rs 1.86 crore on the paintings. The group was also a major donor to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
* Somnath Dutta, a vice-president of Saradha Printing and Publishing Pvt Ltd who is now being questioned by police, was seen with TMC MP and actress Shatabdi Roy during her Lok Sabha campaign in Birbhum. Trinamool sources said Saradha contributed heavily to Roy’s campaign, including paying for vehicles and hotels. Dutta declined to comment on the matter.
* In 2009, after the Trinamool’s success in the Lok Sabha elections, Madan Mitra, now the state sports minister, was seen on stage with Sudipta Sen. Sen had just purchased land to build a temple “as grand as Akshardham” in Bishnupur in South 24-Parganas, and Mitra, then MLA from Bishnupur West, showered his blessings on him.
“We are all one family,” Mitra said. “I pray that you grow so big that your next programme is at (Kolkata’s) Salt Lake Stadium where huge numbers of spectators can be accommodated.”
Contacted after Saradha went bust, Mitra said: “I went because I was invited (to the function). I went to also speak with workers. The group had constructed hospitals and resorts in the area. I was offered the post of president of the union, and I accepted because it was a union of investors.”
* At the end of August 2011, football superstar Lionel Messi visited Kolkata for a friendly. Madan Mitra was one of the key organisers of the event. The Saradha Group donated several crore for the match that failed to attract enough sponsors. Asked for a comment, Mitra said: “The match was organized by an event management group. It was not a government event, so it does not matter who funded it.”
- More Saradha entities under Sebi scanner; I-T to probe group financesLok Sabha adjourned after condoling death of TMC memberSaradha chief, others sent to police custodyUnion minister Chowdhury: Did not know about chit fund when I backed Saradha Realty
On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I denounce Derek O’ Brien and his party’s parochial and dictatorial attitude. Shri Narendra Modi has not been found guilty of any crime by SIT appointed by honourable Supreme Court. Instead of calling Modi “butcher of Gujarat…..” , Mamata Banerjee should come clean on Saradha Chit Fund Scam.
[ As stated earlier, I have taken the facts from The Financial Express article. Link of the article was posted by Shri Kanchan Gupta on his twitter-handle. I am indebted and express my gratitude. ]
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