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Himanta on notice spree, AGP joins fray

Himanta Biswa Sarma

May 3: Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today served another legal notice in connection with the Saradha scam, while the AGP moved the President to ensure punishment for those facilitating operation of deposit collecting companies in the state.

Sarma slapped the legal notice through his counsel on Dibon Deka, the publisher of a local Saradha Group newspaper, for accusing him of facilitating the company’s operations in Assam. This is Sarma’s second legal notice in the past fortnight, the first being served on Saradha chief Sudipta Sen for “maligning” his name in a letter Sen had written to the CBI.

Sarma’s counsel Padmadhar Nayak said Deka had been given 30 days to offer an unconditional apology or face legal action. “The notice we served on Saradha group boss Sudipta Sen on April 27 was returned undelivered on Thursday, citing incomplete address. We will look for an alternative address but, irrespective of the outcome, we will initiate legal action against him (Sen) after 30 days,” Nayak said.

Deka had on April 23 accused Sarma, a former director-general of police and Publication Board, Assam, secretary Sadananda Gogoi of assisting the group’s business ventures in the state. While the DGP had retired from service last year, Sadananda resigned from his post on Monday citing health grounds.

Sarma today said: “I am (in) no way involved with the business of Saradha Group. Thus, there is no question of facing the CBI or any other investigating agency. I can only say that the Calcutta-based group had invested in three newspapers of Assam. My lawyer has served a legal notice on Deka for defaming me.”

On the other hand, the Bureau of Investigation (Economic Offences) will probe the alleged fraud committed by “investment firms” in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts.

A police official in Cachar told The Telegraph that one of the companies is Cosmic Negotiators Limited, a Calcutta-based firm. The name of the other company, headquartered in Karimganj in Barak valley, was not disclosed.

The police arrested two additional directors of the company — Asit Kumar Nath, 54, and his wife Runu, 50 — from Nutunbazar village, 12km from Silchar town, yesterday afternoon and booked them under Sections 420, 120B and 409 of the IPC.

Sources said the managing director of the company, Sanjit Chakravarty, hailing from Tripura, is now reported to be hiding in south Calcutta’s Kasba locality.

In a related development, an eight-member AGP delegation, led by president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and working president Atul Bora, submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi. It sought his intervention to get those who helped the illegal deposit collecting companies operate in the state punished as well as to get the depositors’ money refunded because the state government had failed to realise the plight of the depositors.

The agonising part, the document stated, was Gogoi’s admission of having accepted Rs 20 lakh from one of the companies. Gogoi has clarified he received the money for cancer relief. “The honourable President assured us that he would convey our demands to the Prime Minister," Bora told The Telegraph.

The AGP also demanded the implementation of the 1985 Assam Accord and update of the NRC at the earliest.