KOLKATA: The CBI, which has been probing the multi-crore Saradha scam, on Wednesday interrogated Assam’s former Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarmah even as it started to close in on West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra, who has been discharged from hospital.
Sarmah, who had led a failed coup against Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi within the ruling Congress, had allegedly taken money from Saradha Group chairman Sudipto Sen and later blackmailed and threatened him. The CBI grilled Sarmah for several hours about a contract between News Live, a Guwahati-based TV channel owned by his wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarmah and Saradha Group.
However, after a six-hour-long interrogation at the agency’s CGO Complex Office at Salt Lake here, Sarmah was allowed to leave. Emerging from the CBI office, Sarmah claimed that the alleged letter had been written by Sen himself.
The CBI is now closing in on Mitra after his discharge from SSKM Hospital here as he had not responded to its notice to appear before the agency for questioning regarding his involvement in the Saradha scam. The agency will now serve a second notice on him and if he were to dodge it, the sleuths plan to detain him for interrogation.
However, Mitra continued to protest his innocence.”I did know Sen but was never aware of his chit fund business. Since he was into real estate in my adjoining constituency and our party workers were employed, I attended a function along with him and assured him of all legal help.”
“I am not scared at all and do not think there is any reason for the CBI to arrest me. I will certainly inform them of my release from hospital and visit its Office whenever they call me. I never planned to flee or avoid the agency. If I wanted to flee, I would have gone to Kashmir, Nepal or Bangladesh but not to a hospital,” he replied, when asked whether he was avoiding the CBI apprehending his arrest.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) attempts to trace renowned painter Suvaprasanna, considered close to West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee, have come a cropper .
Suvaprasanna is yet to appear before the Enforcement Directorate, which froze his 24 fixed deposit accounts, two more bank accounts and traced three hotels in Mumbai purchased in his daughter’s name using funds received from the Saradha Group.
He sold his Bengali TV channel, ‘Shomoy Ekhon’, which was yet to be launched, for a huge amount and had twice appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for interrogation.