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Saradha quiz in face-to-face phase

Calcutta, Aug. 24: The CBI today questioned Manoranjana Sinh, a journalist who allegedly entered into financial transactions with Saradha boss Sudipta Sen to set up a TV channel in Guwahati.

“A CBI officer called me around 5pm and asked me to visit their Salt Lake office. I reached there within 30 minutes. Their questions to me focused on the agreement I had signed with Sen. They wanted to know about the financial transactions between me and Saradha,” said Manoranjana, the chairperson of Frontier TV in Assam.

Sources said CBI officers made Sen sit face to face with Manoranjana and asked her to react to claims the Saradha chief had made in a purported letter to the CBI last year.

“Sen claimed to have paid her (Manoranjana) Rs 25 crore for setting up a channel in Guwahati. We wanted to know how the deal was settled,” a CBI officer said.

Manoranjana, the estranged wife of former Union minister and former Congress MP Matang Sinh, was questioned a day after the CBI compared former director-general of Bengal police Rajat Majumdar’s replies with some of the claims made by Sen in the letter. “Yesterday, Majumdar was interrogated in the same style,” the CBI officer said.

Manoranjana was earlier quizzed by the Enforcement Directorate.

A purported letter written by Sen to the CBI just before Saradha went bust in April last year mentioned Manoranjana and her father. Sen held them responsible for “damaging me financially”.

The letter said Manoranjana took him to Chennai to meet lawyer Nalini Chidambaram, the wife of P. Chidambaram who was then the Union home minister.

According to the letter, Nalini “pressurised” Sen to invest Rs 42 crore in a Northeast TV channel.

The letter claimed Nalini “herself prepared the agreement” and “fixed her consultancy... on which account more than Rs 1 (One) Crores have been given to her”.

Sen wrote that Manoranjana had “assured” him that if the Chidambaram family stood by him, he would have “great clout in India. Though Madam Chidambaram never assured me like this….”

Manoranjana and sources close to Nalini had said Nalini was merely discharging her responsibilities as a lawyer and she committed no irregularity. The sources said Nalini had advised the channel against accepting money from Saradha.

The purported letter mentioned that the Saradha chief had to pay for the frequent foreign tours of Manoranjana’s son and her father.

Asked about the interrogation today, a CBI officer said: “We asked Sen why he had paid the airfares and other expenses. We asked Manoranjana whether she and her family took such favours from Sen.” The officer did not elaborate.

The CBI produced Sandhir Agarwala, son of tea merchant Sajjan Agarwala, in Alipore court. He was remanded in CBI custody till August 27.