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Trinamool women sit-in at CBI office, chit fund victims take out march

Kolkata, Sep 11 (IANS) The Trinamool Congress women’s wing Thursday began a sit-in outside the CBI office decrying the central agency’s “misuse” in the multi-crore-rupee Saradha scam probe, even as thousands of chit fund sufferers walked Kolkata’s streets demanding refund of money collected by such companies and arrest of the owners.

Arrested two days back, ruling Trinamool leader and former state director general (armed police) Rajat Majumdar was sent to five days Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody, but challenged the investigators to prove the charges.

Taking the battle against the CBI to the streets, Mahila Trinamool Congress members – numbering around 100 – gathered outside the CGO complex in the satellite township of Salt Lake and raised slogans accusing the Narendra Modi-led central government of using the CBI as a “pawn” to defame the Trinamool and its supremo Mamata Banerjee.

“CBI is indulging in various activities to change the proper course of the Saradha scam probe. CBI is working as per the dictates of the BJP. It is being used to protect the interests of the Modi government,”said Mahila Trinamool Congress state president and West Bengal minister Chandrima Bhattacharya during the protests, which continued till the evening. The demonstration will resume Friday.

Banerjee, also the state chief minister, has come under attack from the opposition parties who have questioned her silence on the scandal which has sucked in a number of Trinamool leaders, including a minister and several MPs.

Meanwhile, victims of chit fund schemes, including those run by the Saradha Group, from across West Bengal took out a huge protest rally that choked central Kolkata.

The rally, organised by the Chit Fund Sufferers Association, saw agents and investors duped by these companies participate in large numbers without political banners.

However, senior leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and other Left Front partners, Congress and some more left parties walked hand in hand with the sufferers decrying the “collusion” of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and its leaders with the proprietors of the companies.

The march, which began from College Square, concluded at Rani Rashmoni Road – about seven kms away.

CPI-M state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty demanded Banerjee’s resignation and criticised her for asking her party’s women wing members to hold a sit in demonstration outside the CBI office.

“West Bengal tops in the number of crimes against women. But one never saw the Mahila Trinamool Congress members protest against incidents like rapes. Today they are holding the demonstration to protect thieves.”

Chakraborty said another big rally will be organised Sep 15 to express solidarity with the chit fund sufferers.

Former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said the state was now in turmoil over the scam. “Lot of people in the Trinamool are under the CBI scanner.Many more arrests will be made. People are angry. The sufferers must get back their money.”

Majumdar, hospitalised after he complained of chest pain immediately following his Tuesday arrest, was presented before a city court after being discharged by the state-run NRS Medical College and Hospital earlier in the day.

Describing his arrest as politically motivated, he challenged the agency that it neither will be able to extract any confessions from him nor be able to prove the charges.

Arguing himself before the court, Majumdar even claimed that the CBI will not be able to prove he provided Saradha money to top Trinamool leadership.

After hearing the prosecution, the court remanded Majumdar to five days CBI custody.

Later while being taken to the CBI office, Majumdar reiterated his stand of not cooperating with the agency.

Majumdar’s name cropped up after suspended Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh, now behind bars, accused the former Indian Police Service officer of swindling crores of rupees in organising a cultural programme in Las Vegas in 2012.

Majumdar who worked as a security advisor for the Saradha group,joined Trinamool in recent years, and served as the party’s poll observer for Birbhum district for the 2013 panchayat election.

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