GUWAHATI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will grill a Tripura minister in connection with the multi-crore Rose Valley chit fund scam.
The agency issued a notice, dated June 23, 2017, to Bijita Nath, the state’s minister for social welfare and social education and welfare of other backward castes, who also holds the portfolio of science, technology and environment, asking her to be present at her official residence on June 29 to face interrogation. Nath has been a minister for the past two terms.
In the notice issued Section 160 CrPC, Bratin Ghoshal, an inspector of police, CBI, Kolkata, wrote, “Whereas it appears that you are acquainted with the circumstances of the case…, which I am now investigating under chapter XII of the code of criminal procedure, you are hereby required to make yourself available on 29.06.2017 at 10 am in your official residence located in Agartala for the purpose of answering certain questions relating to the case”.
The development is being perceived as a body blow to the state’s ruling Left Front. It will surely leave the country’s “poorest” chief minister Manik Sarkar in a spot of bother given that Assembly elections in the State are just months away. The Left Front faces the toughest challenge in many years from a resurgent BJP, which has been campaigning aggressively against the ruling dispensation for the past few months.
Nath denied her involvement in the scam. She alleged that she was being targeted as she was the state’s lone lady in the ministry.
“I don’t know but it could be a conspiracy against me as I am the only woman in the ministry. We all know that women are kept suppressed by the society. I don’t think there can be a second reason,” she told The New Indian Express from Agartala.
“I have always helped women grow. I had no links whatsoever with them (Rose Valley). They had an office in Dharmanagar (in north Tripura). During its inauguration in 2008, I was there along with some other elected representatives. That’s it,” she said.
Confirming the receipt of the notice, the minister said, “Yes, I have received it. But I have no idea what they would want to know from me. I will cooperate with them.”
During a rally in Tripura last month, BJP national president Amit Shah had pilloried Chief Minister Sarkar, with reference to the chit fund scam. He had demanded that if the chief minister was so confident that none in his government and the party was involved in the scam, he should invite the CBI to the State to probe the allegations of wrongdoings by politicians.
According to the BJP’s allegations, as many as 14 lakh out of Tripura’s 37 lakh people had been cheated by chit fund companies including Rose Valley and Saradha.
Rose Valley started its operations from Tripura and expanded to West Bengal, Odisha and Assam. Last year, Trinamool Congress MPs, Tapash Paul and Sudip Bandopadhyay, were arrested in connection with the scam. They are now in judicial custody of the CBI in Odisha.