Over 1,000 chit fund agents urge Mamata to bail them out

Kolkata, April 19 (IANS) Over 1,000 agents of chit fund-funded Saradha Group, which is virtually on the verge of collapse, Friday held a demonstration in front of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s house here, urging her to bail them out.

A few days ago, the Banerjee government in the state ordered the arrest of the group’s chairman and managing director Sudipta Sen for defaulting on repayments.

The agents gathered in front of the chief minister’s south Kolkata residence and sought her intervention in the payment crisis.

Saradha Group is one of the largest chit fund companies in eastern India. It has also diversified into construction, realty, tourism, hospitality, agri-businesses and media.

As capital market regulator SEBI started taking actios against chit fund companies for flouting rules, which raised concerns over safety of public money, pressure on the group’s finances mounted.

Crisis in the group was brewing since January, which forced it to recently wind up at least 10 media organisations – newspapers and television channels – that it had launched or acquired since 2010. Over 1,000 journalists and non-journalists have been rendered jobless.

Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, Thursday said steps were being taken to arrest Sen.

“Probably Sudipta Sen is now in north India. You will come to know whenever he is arrested,” she had said.

Her party, however, could not avoid a public outrage as Kunal Ghosh, a Trinamool Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha, was the editor and chief executive officer of the group’s media venture.

Ghosh, however, said he was only an employee and had put in his papers.

“I was a salaried employee of their (Saradha Group’s) media unit. I was never a director or owner. I was connected with only the media wing. I was never connected with any other aspect of the business of the group,” Ghosh said in a post on social networking site Facebook.

“Editorial was under my jurisdiction. According to the terms of my agreement, finance, accounts were never part of my mandate,” said Ghosh.

“Mr. Sen did not respond to any constructive proposal in favour of employees and media products. In spite of my best efforts, I was compelled to resign from Saradha media,” he added.

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