Durgapur, March 18: A Durgapur trader who police said was an agent of a chit fund company that allegedly swindled around Rs 400 crore out of its investors in 2009 was kidnapped yesterday.
According to the police, Arup Saha, 40, who owns a catering company, travel agency and a sweet shop, was dragged into a red SUV yesterday afternoon by a gang of eight youths on Hostel Avenue, near the Durgapur Steel Plant township where he had gone to finalise a deal.
“Sahababu was talking to Pandeyji (whom he had gone to meet) near the football ground along Hostel Avenue when a speeding Sumo screeched to a halt. Eight youths got down and asked which one of the two was Saha. Pandeyji pointed out Sahababu and they dragged him inside. I fled. But I saw Pandeyji getting into the car,” said Swapan Majhi, one of Saha’s employees who had accompanied him on Saha’s bike.
Officers at Durgapur police station, where Saha’s wife Rita lodged a complaint of kidnapping last night, said they were yet to get any “information” on “Pandeyji”. “We suspect Pandey is not his actual name,” an officer said.
Asked about Saha’s links with Sun Finance, a chit fund agency that allegedly swindled 32,000 investors out of Rs 400 crore four years ago, the officer said Saha was an agent of the company and had gone into hiding for about two months when the agency’s owner was found murdered in 2010.
“It was suspected that investors had murdered Shantanu Chakraborty (the company owner). Earlier, he had been arrested when he failed to return the money to the investors but was released on bail in 2010. Within two weeks, his body was found in a ditch along NH2,” the officer added.
Sources said Saha, who had gone into hiding fearing for his life after the owner’s murder, returned to Durgapur after two months and set up a number of businesses. He bought five steel plant quarters and remodelled them into a bungalow.
The police said they were probing if any of the investors in Sun Finance is involved in the kidnapping. “We are exploring all angles. Saha’s cellphone is switched off,” said S.S. Murugan, the assistant commissioner of police (east).
According to one of Saha’s employees, the trader had got threat calls from several investors over the past couple of months. “They were demanding their money back,” he said, adding: “Sahababu was planning to launch a money marketing company.”
Saha’s wife Rita said: “My husband has no enmity with anybody. I will not speak any more on this.”