The Telegraph
Saturday , April 26 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Trail of Saradha questions and tragedy
- Depositor battling depression dead

Canning, April 25: A mason who had reportedly deposited Rs 1.5 lakh in a Saradha company was found hanging from a tree this morning near his home in Canning in South 24-Parganas.

No conclusive link had been established between the death and the deposit default till tonight.

But a relative said Susanta Sardar, 42, was depressed and used to worry how he would marry off his daughter after an agent disappeared with the deposit certificates that the mason had handed over in the hope of securing a refund.

Domestic relations also appeared to have taken a knock after Susanta’s wife discovered that he had invested money in cash collection companies such as Saradha.

The Justice Shyamal Sen Commission was till now refunding only those who had deposited up to Rs 10,000 as the government wanted to give priority to the poor. The commission today said those who deposited up to Rs 20,000 would be refunded soon.

In both cases, Susanta would not have been eligible for the refund but it was not clear whether he or his family were aware of the cut-off.

According to family members, Susanta, a resident of Paranikheko village that is around 90km from Calcutta, had invested around Rs 3.5 lakh in several fund-mobilising companies.

The deposits in Saradha totalled Rs 1.5 lakh, his family said, pleading inability to show proof as the agent had fled with the certificate and the family could not find any copy. The family showed documents of other companies’ schemes which have not yet matured.

Susanta leaves behind his daughter, a 15-year-old student, and his wife Chhaya.

Susanta’s nephew Niranjan, in his twenties and also a mason, said his uncle had invested money in different companies but did not give any details to his family.

“Over the past three months, my uncle became very restless and depressed. He also stopped going to work. He had told me that he had invested about Rs 1.5 lakh in Saradha. When the government announced refunds, the agent and a friend met my uncle and took away the certificates. They never showed their faces again,” Niranjan said.

According to Niranjan, his uncle used to wonder “how he will marry off his daughter”. He also wanted to turn his mud-walled house into a brick-and-mortar one, the nephew said.

Susanta’s wife Chhaya said that she initially did not know about his investments. “But when he looked depressed and stopped going to work, I suspected something was wrong. Once or twice, he told me that he had invested money in some place but did not elaborate. I used to quarrel with him and ask him about his investments as the news about Saradha had already spread in our area.

“I asked him repeatedly where he had kept his money. But he would not tell me. We quarrelled over this frequently. Sometimes he got angry and threatened to commit suicide.”

Chhaya said that this morning “I asked him how the family would run if he stopped earning. He became angry and ran out of the house. After some time, I found him hanging from a tree”.

Additional SP K.P. Barui said: “The family members have not lodged any complaint saying that he had made investments in any fund-mobilising company.”


Justice Shyamal Sen, the chairman of the commission set up to inquire into the Saradha deposit default, on Friday held the first formal media conference since it was set up a year ago.At the hour-long event, Justice Sen explained what the commission did in the past one year. The Telegraph lists what is known and what remains unknown after the media conference.


• The commission has issued cheques up to Rs 10,000 to 3.95 lakh Saradha victims so far

• Cheques will soon be issued to an additional 2.37 lakh victims who have been duped up to Rs 20,000, the commission formally announced on Friday

• The commission has collected around Rs 1.34 crore from debtors and by selling off some Saradha flats. It has so far spent Rs 167 crore on refunds. Which means: inflow Rs 1.34 crore and outflow Rs 167 crore

• It has called managing directors of 17 non-Saradha companies for a meeting next week


How much money did Saradha mop up?

The commission did not throw any light on the issue. But the figure is important as complete recovery is impossible without a clear idea of how much had been collected. The figure is also important to assess the blow dealt by the sham company to the state’s economy

How many depositors lost their money?

The commission has said so far 17.31 lakh applications have been filed. Of this, 5 lakh relate to non-Saradha companies.

That means 12 lakh people have come forward to claim they have lost money in Saradha. It is not clear whether depositors from remote areas, where the Saradha group was mostly operating, submitted claims before the commission

Who is fixing the upper-limit to extend compensation?

In the first phase, the commission had recommended names of depositors who had invested up to Rs 1,000. In thesecond phase, the upper limit was Rs 10,000 and the third phase’s upper limit will be Rs 20,000. It is not clear who is fixing the limit. The commission’s terms of reference did not mention any clause saying compensation would be structured in such a manner

Who are the persons responsible for the situation?

The commission’s terms of reference say it is supposed to find out the persons responsible. So far, nobody has been held guilty by the commission

Why were Saradha group depositors alone given compensation?

The commission’s terms of reference said that it should have worked to hear complaints from depositors of other sham companies too. This is important because poor people had invested in other companies too. However, commission sources said the process of contacting other companies had already started

Has the commission informed the government of the methodology Saradha had used to mop up money?

The terms of reference said that the commission was supposed to do so. The question assumes importance because the government can then put in place measures to avert a replay. Besides, it will establish whether there is any substance in the Opposition charge that many people trusted Saradha because of the way the company projected itself to be close to those in power