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Funds agent then, candidate now

Muraroi (Birbhum), July 7: If you can’t wipe the stain, look for the gain.

A former agent of a deposit-mobilising company in Birbhum who owes Rs 1 lakh to investors has been made a Trinamul candidate for the panchayat elections.

Rayes Sheikh, who is contesting a seat in the Mahurapur gram panchayat, said his experience would help him guide people on how to steer clear of sham companies.

“I was trapped by an agent into collecting money on his behalf. Now, I am going to every household and telling villagers that I can help them avoid sham companies. I can tell them where to invest. I now know how they (sham funds companies) try to cheat people,” Rayes said.

He is telling people that he was not directly involved with the funds company.

His poll graffiti and banners tell people that he had been “trapped by chit funds”.

Ami chit fund er kobole porechilam. Kintu ami agent noi. Ami sab bujhe nijeke sorie niyechilam. Apnarao chit fund theke dure thakun (I was trapped by a chit fund. But I am not an agent. I distanced myself after learning about the operations of chit funds. You also stay away from chit funds),” reads one of his graffiti.

Not that Rayes has been able to convince everybody.

“Rayes had raised more than Rs 1 lakh from about 60 villagers here. After Saradha went bust, the company for which Rayes worked closed down its office in Muraroi. Rayes has failed to return the money to the depositors,” said Sebina Bibi, an investor in Ratanpur.

“How will anyone vote for a person who is involved with a company that duped so many people?”

Birbhum Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal said he was not aware of such a candidate. “It is not possible to keep tabs on each and every candidate at the grassroots level.”