Sudipta Sen outside the Alipore court on Thursday. Picture by Bibhash Lodh
Debabrata Sarkar outside the Alipore court. Picture by Bibhash Lodh
Calcutta, Aug. 21: Saradha boss Sudipta Sen today pleaded that he be sent to CBI custody — a wish that was granted by a court.
The dramatic appeal capped a roller-coaster day during which East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar was remanded in custody till August 26 and a purported “sealed envelope” kept the political class on edge.
Sen appeared before the additional chief judicial magistrate of Alipore Court, Haradhan Mukhopadhyay, within 30 minutes of the court remanding Sarkar aka Nitu to CBI custody till August 26.
Sen was produced in the court in connection with a case the CBI had drawn up against him after clubbing seven FIRs.
Walking into the courtroom from the court lockup and stepping into the wooden dock, the Saradha chief said: “Sir, I want to say something. I will take only two minutes.”
The magistrate nodded.
“Sir, I want to go to CBI custody. Please allow me to be in their custody,” Sen said.
The magistrate lifted his glasses and said: “But you are already in CBI custody.”
Sen looked up at the dais and said he was in jail. Even though he had no problem, he would still want to be in CBI custody.
“But why?” the magistrate asked.
“I have several things to tell the CBI,” Sen replied.
The magistrate accepted his request.
Sen walked back to the lockup, muttering under his breath but audible: “I want to say a lot of things to the CBI. But I hardly get the opportunity.”
In the afternoon, while being taken to the court lockup, Sen said he had paid Sarkar a hefty amount in several instalments.
Although Sen’s statement that he had “several things to tell” set tongues wagging, some investigators cautioned that hasty conclusions should not be reached.
A purported letter Sen had written to the CBI a few days before he was arrested was seen as a “red herring” intended at throwing investigators off the track. Bearing that in mind, the investigators are expected to verify, if and when fresh revelations are made, whether they were aimed at misleading them and protecting others.
Later in the day, the CBI took charge of Sen and ferried him to its office in Salt Lake. Late at night, Sen was shifted to Electronics Complex police station in Sector V.
Sources said Sarkar, who is lodged less than 3km away at Bidhannagar North police station, and Sen were later likely to be brought face to face as part of the questioning process.
CBI sources said they would write to the registrar of companies to access details of a company with which Sarkar allegedly had dealings. In his purported letter to the CBI, Sen had claimed that Sarkar had taken cheques in the name of a particular company.
If the joint interrogation yields information that corroborates some leads, the CBI may carry out “searches” on the premises of some “prabhabshali (influential)” persons, according to sources.
These sources claimed that a plea in a “sealed envelope” had already been filed in a city court.
However, CBI officials in Delhi felt that the envelope could contain the documents seized so far in the case. An officer said the agency did not need to submit before a court the list of those who might be searched or questioned.
The purported envelope and related matters kept the political landscape abuzz through the day. The lull in the state in the absence of the chief minister also served to focus attention on such matters.
The Saradha case was the talking point but none wanted to say anything on record. “It is a matter of time before more names tumble out,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
A minister who knows Sarkar and had yesterday pleaded illness said today: “I am still very sick. I won’t be able to speak.”
Told of the minister’s condition, a Trinamul MLA deadpanned: “Many hospital beds could be occupied in the days to come.”