Investigative agency gears up for stern action against the accused

Kolkata : Probing the multi-crore rupee Saradha scam, the CBI on Thursday raided 22 locations in West Bengal and Assam, including the residences of two former Assam ministers and a retired police chief and the offices of Kolkata businessman Sandhir Agarwal.

The CBI also searched the house of former confidential assistant of West Bengal Transport Minister and high profile Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra in connection with the Saradha scam. The CBI official also conducted search operations in seven places including the house of a former Trinamool Congress leader Asif Khan, and former IPS officer Deben Biswas sources said.

It was learnt that Bapi Karim, the confidential assistant of the minister used to visit the head office of the Saradha Group located at Midland Park in Salt Lake area every week in the night and he was seen coming out of the office with a packet.

The CBI wanted to know from Bapi Karim why he used to go the office of the Saradha Group and what was kept in the packet. But Bapi Karim could not give any satisfactory answer.

The investigating officials at first conducted search operation at Bapi’s residence and interrogated him for a long time. But since they were not satisfied with the answer given by

Bapi, they took him to the CBI office in CGO Complex in Salt Lake area.

Meanwhile, the CBI on Thursday announced that the political leaders whose names have been entangled with the Saradha scam, should cooperate with them, otherwise stern action would be taken against them, the CBI officials said.

Welcoming the decision of the CBI, West Bengal BJP President Rahul Sinha said the political leaders who were involved with the Saradha Group and cheated poor people should be punished. “They should cooperate with the CBI,” he observed.

Sujan Chakraborty, CPI(M) leader and former MP alleged that many Trinamool Congress leaders were involved in the scam. “All of them will be arrested. This is only the tip of the ice burg,” he said.

State Congress leader Abdul Mannan also alleged that a section of ruling party leaders who were involved in the scam had destroyed many important documents which could help the CBI to unearth the case. He said that the Trinamool Congress leaders who were involved into the incident should be immediately arrested.

The searches by the CBI took place at seven locations in Kolkata, 14 in Assam (12 in Guwahati and two in Dhubri) and one in Mumbai, including the residence of Assam’s former education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former Assam director general of police (DGP) Shankar Baruah, an official said in New Delhi.

The CBI has till now registered 48 cases, including four in West Bengal and 44 in Odisha, in the alleged chit fund scam on the directions of the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court had handed over the 10,000 crore Saradha chit fund scam case to the CBI in May 2014 and asked the state governments to provide all logistical help to the agency.

In Guwahati, CBI teams also raided the office of News Live TV channel which is owned by Himanta Biswa Sarma’s wife.

Sarma had resigned from Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet last month.  Both Sarma and his wife were not available during the raids and also not available for comments.  Sadananda Gogoi’s house in Guwahati was also raided.

Meanwhile, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi Thursday said that it was his government which had handed over 15 chit fund cases to the CBI, including that of Saradha, in 2013, much before the Supreme Court entrusted the investigating agency the task to probe the scam.

Ambar Mukherjee

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