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CBI conspiracy quiz for Saradha six

Calcutta, June 11: The CBI has decided to seek the custody of Saradha chairman Sudipta Sen and former media wing chief Kunal Ghosh as part of its probe into the repayment default, the planned move aimed at culling information on the “larger conspiracy” behind the scam.

The CBI today moved a petition seeking the production of the two at the agency’s special court in Alipore on June 16 along with four others, including Saradha’s executive director Debjani Mukherjee, employee Arvind Chauhan and group vice-president Somnath Dutta.

Eight days ago, the central investigating agency had filed an FIR in the special court, charging the six under various sections.

“We have already collected some documents, including books of accounts and audited reports of Saradha Tours and Travels, one of the four group companies under our scanner. We now want to interrogate Sen to understand how he and his accomplices had siphoned off public money,” said a senior officer of the CBI’s special investigation team probing the default scam.

“We also want to question (Trinamul MP) Ghosh, who used to head the group’s media wing, to get clarity on some of the missing links in the money trail and Saradha’s alleged connection with influential people,” the official added.

Only one central agency, the Enforcement Directorate, has questioned Sen and Ghosh so far.

Ghosh had met SFIO officials in New Delhi prior to his arrest in November 2013 and handed over some documents, sources said.

The sources added that the Bengal police SIT, set up by Mamata Banerjee, did not probe Saradha’s alleged links with “influential people” and the money trail.

“If the two (Sen and Ghosh) start talking, it might be embarrassing for the state government. Ghosh has been alleging that Saradha had links with influential persons,” said a senior officer in the state police directorate.

He, however, added that getting details on the Saradha Group and checking the veracity of allegations of association with influential persons would be easier said than done as the CBI would have to depend on the now dismantled Bengal police SIT for documents pertaining to the default.

In one of the three FIRs lodged with the CBI special court in Calcutta, the agency has specified that it would like to probe the role of “highly influential persons” who had worked for the Saradha Group and played a role in its rise.

Poser ire

Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra today raised the issue of the security of high-profile prisoners in jails, including Trinamul MP Ghosh, but was shouted down by MLAs of the ruling party.

Mishra asked jail minister H.A. Safwi if any such prisoner had appealed for better security and what steps had been initiated in such cases.

Safwi replied: “No one has made such an appeal. There is no question of providing special security to anybody.”

Mishra promptly put forward his supplementary question, saying he had read in newspapers that “a Rajya Sabha MP of the ruling party” was “feeling unsafe” in jail. Safwi replied: “I have visited jails with my officers. The chief minister has also visited some jails. Nobody has complained about lack of security.”

Mishra then asked: “It has been reported in the media that Kunal Ghosh and some other accused are fearing threats to their lives in jail…” Trinamul MLAs cut him short and started shouting.