CPI-M attacks Mamata's plan to pay Saradha depositors

Kolkata, Sep 29 (IANS) The CPI-M Sunday attacked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her plans to compensate duped investors of the Saradha Group chit fund, terming it "illegal" to distribute public money among those who incurred losses by parking funds in private companies.

"The state treasury belongs to the people of West Bengal. By distributing money from the treasury among those who were duped in the Saradha scam, the government is only betraying its desire to protect the scam masterminds," leader of the opposition in assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra told media persons.

"It is also illegal to use public money to bail out those who have suffered by parking their funds in private investment companies," said Mishra, also a Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member.

Banerjee is slated to hand over "some amount" to 1,000 people at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra Sep 30.

The state government would try to cover another one lakh depositors before next month's Durga puja, and make efforts to reimburse another three-four lakh after Diwali (Nov 2), Banerjee announced earlier this week.

The five-day Durga Puja festival begins Oct 10.

The Saradha scandal - the biggest to hit the state - came to light in April.

The company closed shop across Bengal after being unable to pay back the depositors -- mainly poor people who, lured by the promise of huge returns, parked their life's savings with the firm.

As the company went bust, there was a spate of suicides by agents and investors and protests across the state.

Saradha promoter Sudipta Sen was arrested with his close aides April 23 from Sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir.

Days after the scandal came to light, the chief minister announced that a Rs.500 crore corpus would be set up to indemnify the duped investors.

The state government constituted the Justice (retd) Shyamal Sen inquiry commission to probe the scam and recommend ways of compensating the depositors.

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