'CBI Should Now Return Money to Duped Saradha Depositors'
Hours after the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into the Saradha chit fund scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday said the agency should now take the responsibility of returning the money to the duped investors in the company.
Addressing an election rally in Baharampur of Murshidabad district, Banerjee warned that if the Saradha victims were not compensated fully, they would go to the BJP, CPI-M and the Congress to seek return of their money.
The state government, which till the last strongly opposed pleas to hand over the Saradha probe to the federal investigative agency amid allegations that several leaders of the ruling Trinamool had links with the scandal, has claimed that it has already fully refunded four lakh people who had lost their money by depositing it in the Saradha group companies.
"It is no more my responsibility now. Now the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) should return the money. If that does not happen, people will go to the homes of those of the BJP, Congress and the CPI-M asking for their money. I will wait for that day," she said.
Claiming she was "very happy", Banerjee responded to criticism that her government had blocked the plea to hand over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"If you ask me, why didn't you want, I will tell you why should I? It is my state, if I am to do a job, why should I engage others?"
Banerjee lauded the Special Investigation Team set up by her government to look into the multi-crore scam, after it broke out last year when the Saradha group downed shutters duping lakhs of depositors - mostly poor people in small towns and villages - who had parked their life's savings in the company's schemes lured by the promise of huge returns.
"Investigation - very good. Everybody appreciated," she said.
Refering to the Supreme Court assertion that the investigation by the West Bengal Police did not make any headway in inter-state ramification of the scam, she said "the state government does not have responsibility of other states".
On the Supreme Court referring to the international ramifications of the scam, Banerjee said that "the international point is absolutely valid. It is a case of money laundering".
She latched on to the Supreme Court's criticism of the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India for "keeping their eyes shut" when the scam was taking place.
"So, people were telling lies. It is the responsibility of SEBI, Reserve Bank, who did not perform their duty. I want their faces to be blackened. We are now out of it."
Banerjee said her government was "safe", and was not bothered about the CBI probe.
"I am totally safe. My government is safe. Why should we be bothered?" she asked.