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Moving from bottom to top: CBI
Saradha quiz for Madan’s ex-aide

New Delhi, Aug. 28: CBI director Ranjit Sinha today said the agency was moving from “the bottom to the top” in the Saradha case and there was “reasonable ground for suspicion against some politicians”.

The statement came on a day the CBI searched more than 20 premises in Bengal and Assam, including that of a former aide to Trinamul leader and minister Madan Mitra. In Assam, two senior Congress politicians came under the scanner. (See chart)

“We are moving from the bottom to the top. We have reasonable ground for suspicion against some politicians for having links in Saradha scandal and our probe is now moving towards its logical conclusion,” Sinha told The Telegraph.

“The probe has revealed that there was a larger conspiracy and our officials are busy establishing that,” he added.

CBI sources said that Bapi Karim, the former confidential assistant to transport minister Mitra who took ill soon after the CBI picked up East Bengal club’s de facto boss Debabrata Sarkar, was questioned for several hours today.

Sources said Karim, who was taken to the CBI’s Salt Lake office and allowed to leave in the evening, had initially said he had been suffering from dementia and was on medication.

“He said he did not recall anything and stared at us blankly. He said he had been keeping to himself these days but when we confronted him with his mobile phone call details, the mood changed. He started recollecting some details and answered our queries,” said a CBI official. “We will call him again for questioning.”

According to the official, a group of politicians and bureaucrats had helped Saradha boss Sudipta Sen in stashing money. “We are making a list of beneficiaries who got a share,” the official added.

Other sources said the agency was building a disproportionate assets case against some prominent politicians. “We have collected documents of their movable and immovable properties and bank accounts. The contents suggest assets higher than their known sources of income. They need to explain all these,” the official said.

The agency’s bank fraud cell is working to establish the money trail in the case and is assisting the special investigation team. “We suspect that a large portion of the swindled money was laundered in off-shore accounts,” the official added.

CBI director Sinha is keeping a close watch and is taking personal briefings from the agency’s officials in Calcutta. “I am keeping tabs and am aware that one politician is admitted in a Calcutta nursing home,” Sinha said.

CBI sources said that most of the people who have been questioned are under 24x7 surveillance. “A separate team is keeping a close watch,” an official said.

In Calcutta, agency officials said the multiple searches were launched today to collect as much as information possible for questioning Sarkar, the East Bengal official, who has to be produced in court tomorrow.

Sarkar has spent nine days in CBI custody. Usually in such cases, jail custody is granted in the second round.

The sources said Karim, minister Mitra’s former aide, and Sarkar were brought face to face and questioned.

KNOCK, KNOCK: premises searched on thursday

BENGAL