Tripura assembly witnesses bedlam over chit fund firms

Agartala, May 13 (IANS) The Tripura assembly Monday witnessed unprecedented bedlam as the opposition Congress created a ruckus demanding that the government promise security for the money deposited by the people in chit fund companies.

While protesting, the agitated opposition lawmakers took away the about three-feet-tall silver metallic ‘maize’ emblem placed in front of the speaker’s podium. The assembly staff, reacting swiftly, took back the symbolic emblem from the protesters and put it back in its position.

Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath was forced to adjourn the house twice.

As soon as Question Hour was over in the house, opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath demanded a statement from Chief Minister Manik Sarkar over the activities of the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), generally known as chit funds, in the state.

Sarkar, who asked Finance Minister Badal Chaudhury to give a statement in the house, said already 27 cases have been handed over to CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to probe the wrongdoings and scams of the chit fund organisations in Tripura.

Chaudhury said: “SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) had earlier banned the Kolkata-based Rose Valley from accepting deposits from the public. But Rose Valley had collected around Rs.200 crore from the people of the state and did not furnish required documents and accounts despite the state government’s repeated notices.”

According to the minister, Rose Valley has no licence from SEBI or RBI (Reserve Bank of India) or any statutory authority to do financial transaction or to collect money from the people.

Unsatisfied with the minister’s reply, the opposition MLAs, led by Nath, rushed to the speaker’s podium several times and started shouted slogans against the Left Front government, chief minister and other ministers blaming them for “tacit support to the chit fund companies”.

The speaker adjourned the house twice when order could not be restored. When the house reassembled after the recess, the opposition members continued with slogan shouting demanding a categorical declaration by the government to protect the money deposited by the people in chit fund organisations.

Depositors in the northeastern state become panicky after the Tripura government launched a crackdown Friday against Rose Valley, one of the biggest chit fund companies in eastern India, arrested two of its executives and seized a large number of documents.

The Left Front government in Tripura recently asked the CBI to probe the illegal activities of the NBFCs and Unincorporated Bodies (UIBs), which dupe people after accepting deposits on the promise of high returns.

After Assam, Tripura is the second state which ordered a CBI probe into the unlawful activities of the NBFCs and UIBs, following a major chit fund scam in West Bengal.

The Tripura chief minister had said earlier: “The Left Front government is determined to stop the illegal operation of chit funds in the state.”

Sarkar added that 27 NBFCs have already shut down their offices in Tripura after collecting Rs.23.16 crore from people, and 90 such organisations are still working in the state.

The main opposition Congress has also announced it would organise a sit-in demonstration here May 25 demanding protection of money deposited by the people in chit fund groups.

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