Monday, September 29, 2014

Saradha Chit Fund scam – Greed knows no barriers


Corruption in northeast India is largely seen as something ‘imported from India’. So is the case perhaps about baser instincts called, ‘human greed’.
For simpleton tribals and others in the region, the issues of corruption or greed thus revolve around the traditional ‘chicken and egg’ theory – on what came first. The vexed Saradha chit fund scam vis-à-vis the northeast region thus ought to be looked into from a different perspective.
Can people be corrupted or trapped into such a gimmick of easy money, if they do not want to be?
The first lid off the Saradha chit fund scam, which is a major talking point in West Bengal politics, in the region was perhaps taken off by Congress MP, Sanjay Takam when earlier this year he wrote an elaborate letter to the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh complaining that chit fund operators have functioned "from Assam with the singular objective of cheating the poor and tribals of northeast".
In his missive to the then Prime Minister, the Congress MP had specifically
alleged that one M/s Jeevan Suraksha Group of companies had set up regional office at College Road at Lumding in Assam. He also had claimed that the said company had "misappropriated" Rs 20 crore from the general public from Arunachal Pradesh on the "pretext of running different businesses". The MP also claimed that he has met several depositors who have been duped.

The chit fund scam has already snowballed into a minor political controversy in the state of Assam. Singer and Assam-based film maker Sadananda Gogoi was arrested by the CBI in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam on allegations of conspiracy. 

On his part, Gogoi has, however, denied having made any financial transaction with the controversial group.

In April 2014, after Takam’s letter made news; the central government also ordered various security agencies to probe the possibilities of chit fund
money from northeast flowing into anti-national and insurgent groups' hands.

Even in late 1990s, the chit fund operators had functioned in Nagaland
and Manipur and huge amount had allegedly flown into the insurgent groups.


On the Bengal front, the Saradha probe suggests that certain elements in the ruling establishment in the state had established working relations with Jamaat-e—Islami in Bangladesh

This only proves the possibility that a large chunk of money had fallen into the hands of forces inimical to India. Politically, the Saradha chit fund scam in Bengal suits BJP, which for obvious reasons now is having a greater influence on CBI. 

Besides the CBI, various financial offences in their entire episode are being investigated by Enforcement Directorate under the union Finance ministry as well.

The authorities in Assam also raided former Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s residence in connection with the chit fund frauds that has duped lakhs in Assam.
In West Bengal, mercurial Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee might be having one of the worst nightmares of her life as names of her close associates and top party colleagues have been popped up in Saradha chit fund scam in the state.

In Assam too things have turned murkier. Former Assam DGP Shankar Baruah committed suicide on September 17, 2014. The 1974 batch IPS officer and a popularly known jovial kind of person, Baruah’s house was raided was 28th August. It is also said that interrogation of singer Sadananda Gogoi revealed names of many key players of the Assam chapter of the scandal.

In Bengal too, one former DGP, Rajat Mazumdar, who post retirement turned a Trinamul activist, has been arrested. In Assam, singer Gogoi’s interrogation is likely to take things much deeper.
Following Gogoi’s revelations, the CBI is already short listing names of those to be summoned to Kolkata for questioning in connection with the multi-crore scam. The charges against Gogoi imply that ‘Assam chapter’ of the Saradha scam too could bring out can of worms. The singer Gogoi has been charged with actively helping the Saradha Group to run its business in Assam. Gogoi has reportedly come into contact with Saradha Group chief Sudipto Sen, now behind bars, when he did an advertisement campaign for the company. But later on, Gogoi introduced Sen and other senior officers of the company to “influential persons” of the State.
The CBI also believes that Gogoi even carried money on behalf of the company to be paid to influential persons in the state.
Thus, the plot has just started unraveling. The suicide of ex-DGP Shankar Baruah only confirms that the higher ups were involved. This again highlights the conundrum that major corruption and financial defalcation can be carried out in India with the active involvement of senior cops.
About a decade back, in Mumbai’s now infamous Telgi stamp scam too, a number of police officials up to the rank of ADG and Police commissioner were held. The sagging image of police is not confined to one state or region.

                              One has often heard, who will guard the guards.
 No statement can be made on policing in India without reference to politics. 
Despite far reaching socio-economic and political changes in over six decades, there have been very little basic changes in policing. It continues to be under the control of the political masters guided primarily by age old
archive rule of colonial period. Constitutionally a state DGP is accountable to "law and law only" and not to any Chief Minister or Home Minister. But Saradha chit fund scam is another proof that the rot continues.

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