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Victims see glimmer of hope

May 9: The Supreme Court’s decision to hand over the Saradha probe to the CBI has kindled hope among victims of the default scam — hope of justice and of getting their life’s savings back.

However, a CBI probe does not automatically mean the duped depositors would get their money back soon. The refund will depend on the recovery of Saradha’s assets, which will then be auctioned, police sources said.

The Telegraph spoke to some of the Saradha victims:

Shaktipada Biswas

The 48-year-old ayurveda practitioner from Purulia’s Balarampur town could not sleep last night after learning that the Supreme Court would deliver its judgment in the Saradha case today.

Shaktipada’s younger brother Tapan, also an ayurveda practitioner who had deposited Rs 5 lakh in a Saradha scheme, hanged himself on April 26 last year after an argument with his agent.

“A CBI probe will not bring back my brother, but it will at least bring the cheats to book and reveal where all the money went. I feel relieved because after those responsible are punished, it will deter others from starting fraudulent financial schemes,” Shaktipada said.

He said Tapan had a “fairly good practice” but killed himself three days after Saradha chief Sudipta Sen’s arrest because he feared he would not get back his money.

“If the CBI probe helps my brother’s wife get back the money, their two daughters’ future could be settled,” Shaktipada said, adding that the agent was absconding.

Bhola Pramanik

The 30-year-old cycle van-puller’s mother had invested Rs 30,000 in a Saradha scheme, hoping to buy an autorickshaw for her son with the promised high returns. After Saradha went bust, Urmila, a widow from Baruipur in South 24-Parganas, committed suicide by setting herself ablaze last April.

“Now that the CBI investigation has been ordered, I hope I get the money back,” Bhola said.

Chhaya Sardar

Homemaker Chhaya, 35, said her husband, mason Susanta, took his life on April 25. “He had deposited Rs 1.5 lakh in a Saradha scheme. The agent fled with documents related to his investment. My husband had been depressed and was found hanging from a tree near our home,” she said.

Chhaya, a resident of Canning in South 24-Parganas, said she and her relatives were trying to trace the agent. “Now that the CBI will take over the investigation, we hope to get back our money,” she said.

Binapani Rava

Binapani had invested Rs 4 lakh in a Saradha scheme from the Rs 15 lakh she received as compensation from the government after her husband, an EFR jawan, was killed in a Maoist attack on a camp in West Midnapore’s Shilda in 2010.

“The fixed deposit scheme had promised to double the money within seven years. But after Saradha started defaulting on repayments, my agent disappeared,” said Binapani, 45, who lives in the EFR quarters in Salua, near Kharagpur.

“I had also invested Rs 6,000 in a monthly recurring deposit scheme in the name of my son. The Rs 4 lakh I had invested was for the marriage of my daughter, a final year BA student of Ashutosh College. I hope that after the CBI probe, I will get back my money,” she said.

Renukumari Chhetri

The widow of another EFR jawan killed in the same attack said she had invested Rs 3 lakh in a fixed deposit scheme for 10 years. She had been assured that she would get Rs 12 lakh on maturity.

“I had cursed myself for squandering the compensation money like this after Saradha went bust. I had lost all hope of getting back the money. Now that the CBI has been entrusted with the job of investigating the scam, I am expecting something will be done for us,” said Renukumari, 39.