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Bengal chit fund scam: FIR against Trinamool MP, Assembly to pass fresh bill

Bengal chit fund scam: FIR against Trinamool MP, Assembly to pass fresh bill

Kolkata: Compounding the miseries of West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress, employees of a news channel run by the collapsed Saradha Group lodged an FIR against party MP Kunal Ghosh while protests continued to rock the city and the districts over the chit fund muddle Friday.

On a hectic day, the commission formed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to probe the scam began its work while the government called a two-day Assembly session early next week to pass a new bill to bring to book those who duped the depositors by collecting their money.

Ghosh, a senior journalist and face of the media unit of the group that owned several news channels and newspapers till they closed down one after another over the last one month, has been under attack by the opposition for his proximity to Sen.

His hefty pay packet - Rs 15 lakh per month - has also raised questions about his exact role in the group's scheme of things.

The first information report filed Thursday night with the Park Street police station in the city by the channel 10 employees has named Ghosh, Somnath Dutta, the CEO and vice president, respectively, of the media arm, group chief Sudipta Sen and three others for non-payment of salaries, non-submission of provident fund and non-submission of tax deducted at source, said a police officer.

Both Dutta and Ghosh denied having any financial power as employees of the group and blamed Sen for framing them.

Sen, now behind bars and facing prosecution for cheating had written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) indicting Ghosh and other high profile Trinamool and Congress leaders for complicity in the scam and financially exploiting and coercing him.

Meanwhile, an all-party meeting in the state Assembly decided to convene a special session April 29 and 30 to introduce a bill for protection of investors in the scam.

Speaker Biman Banerjee said the Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill 2013 would be tabled on the second day.

The five-man inquiry commission headed by former Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen Friday began its probe and said it will submit its report within six months.

"The commission has formally begun its probe. There are four other members in the commission including an economist, a police officer and a professor," said Sen.

State Governor M.K. Narayanan said indemnifying the poor investors was imperative.

"There are several inquiries that are going on, but the most important issue now is: Can we give back some money to the investors," Narayanan said.

Speaking to the media, the chief minister blamed the central government's "casual approach" and the failure of its agencies like SEBI and Reserve Bank of India for the scam, and demanded the centre return the money of the depositors.

Banerjee also lashed out at the state's erstwhile Left Front regime for not taking the right steps.

"A storm has come because of the deeds of the earlier (Left Front) government and casual approach of the centre," she told a media meet at the state secretariat Writers' Buildings here.

However, Banerjee assured the depositors of the Saradha Group which has downed shutters failing repay the money collected from them that there was nothing to panic.

"Our commission has already started working. There is no reason to panic."

The protests continued on the streets, as Youth Congress and the BJP's women front staged separate demonstrations to protest against the scandal and demanded strictest action against Sen.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya accused the government of trying to dilute the issue to save its "own people".


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