Chaos descended upon Kolkata on the night of 3rd of February, 2019, when a team of CBI officials were detained by the state police when they visited the police commissioner for questioning in the Saradha Chit Fund scam.
As we have reported earlier, it appears that the CBI investigations were probably getting too close for comfort in the Saradha chit fund case where several political bigwigs from the TMC and Congress are alleged to be involved.
It is a good time, then, to revisit the letter that Sudipta Sen, Chairman of the Saradha Group, had written to the CBI in 2013. In the letter, he claimed that he had been cheated by several people and that he was on the verge of committing suicide. He also asserted that the letter should be treated as his dying declaration.
Sen claimed in the letter that he didn’t have any knowledge about how chit funds worked and that he was duped into entering the “money market” by one Shib Narayan Das. He then narrated the entire series of events that transpired which led to the mushrooming of the business and its eventual collapse.
Kunal Ghosh and Srinjay Bose, the now arrested Rajya Sabha MPs from the TMC, feature on the 7th page of the 18-page letter. Sen claimed that Ghosh led the attack against the Saradha group ‘dangerously’. He asserted that in light of the ‘attacks’ against him by the media, he was convinced that he ought to enter the ‘media business’. He then narrates how he acquired Channel-10.
Within a very short time since the Channel started its operations, he was approached by Pratidin led by Ghosh. Bose, Sen claims, made arrangements with the media outlet whereby Sen had to pay it Rs. 60 lakhs per month. In addition, Ghosh had been appointed as the CEO of the channel at the salary of Rs. 15 lakhs per month. Sen then writes, “Praitidin has also given me assurance that execution of this arrangement they will protect my business from the government i.e. State government and also Central Government and I will be able to get a smooth passage and they assured me that they have very close connection with present CM of West Bengal i.e. Ms Mamata Banerjee.”
Sen also claims that Bose, the Managing Director of Pratidin Publication and Pratidin Television Media Pvt. Ltd., “took” Rs. 20 crores over the period of the previous two years. In addition, Ghosh was said to be paid Rs. 1.5 lakh every month as his driver’s salary, fuel expenses and for some social work.
Sen also makes some far damning claims about Kunal Ghosh. He claims that Ghosh came to his office along with a few of his “miscreants” and forced him to sign documents which read that he had sold them Channel-10 for merely Rs. 55 lakhs. The documents, which he was forced to sign he claims, also apparently indicated that he had transferred his Urdu daily KALOM to them.
Another political bigwig that features in the letter is Nalini Chidambaram, wife of senior Congress leader and former Union Minister, P. Chidambaram. Sen writes that he was contacted by one Monranjana Sinh for selling her Positive Groups to him and Nalini Chidambaram was her advocate. Sen then writes, “Madam Chidambaram requested me to help her for setting up a channel in North East in Guwahati and support her extending Rs. 42 crores to her company and Madam Chidambaram herself prepared the agreement wherein she is the sole arbitrator for if at all any dispute arises and requested me for financially support her immediately and also Madam Chidambaram fixed her consultancy and during period of one and half years on which account more than Rs. 1 (One) Crores have been given to her.”
He then adds, “Manoranjana Sinh assured me that madam Chidambaram is the wife Mr P. Chidambaram the then Hon’ble Home Minister and if this Chidambaram family slightly stand by me then I will be great clout in India. Though Madam Chidambaram never assured me like this but without assessing my financial strength she has also pressurised me for supporting her Rs.42 crores.”
Recently, Nalini Chidambaram was charge-sheeted in the Saradha scam. According to the charges filed by CBI, Nalini Chidambaram had received ₹1.4 crore from Sudipta Sen, the prime accused in the case. CBI says that Nalini Chidambaram conspired with Sudipta Sen with an intention of cheating and misappropriation of funds. She took the amount of ₹1.4 crore between 2010 to 2014, according to the charge sheet.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, the architect of BJP’s rise in the North East who was then in the Congress, also features in the letter. Sen accused Sarma of taking money to the tune of Rs. 3 crores from the company. Sarma’s house was searched by the agency in connection with the incident and later, the politician had claimed that he was given a clean chit by the CBI and that he was interrogated as a witness and not an accused. The CBI’s charge sheet into the matter does not mention him as well.
Another Congress leader who found himself in a fix was Anjan Dutta who Sen claims had “taken” six crores rupees from the company.
Sen mentions several other people who he claims have “cheated” him. Throughout the letter, he portrays himself as a hapless victim who found himself in circumstances which were far beyond what he was capable of dealing with. In the end, he blames his entire fall on his “mistake” of entering the “media business”. He writes, “My overall business fall down is due to the media entry, extortion from the above-named persons and blackmailed by my own staffs and executives.” As his “last statement”, Sen requests that an FIR be registered against all the people he has named for provoking him to commit suicide.
To conclude his letter, he requested that his family is not harassed and that other innocent people who may be harassed be given protection. “I am leaving my family, my children in a helpless condition. I don’t know how they will sustain but with my humble prayer before all authorities that my family members should not be harassed till any manner till the last days of their life. There are many innocent executives in my office who may be harassed by the networkers, and it is my humble request to give them protection.”
Sen was the MD and chairman of Saradha Group, a consortium of over 200 companies. He was arrested in April 2013 along with co-accused Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Singh Chouhan from Kashmir.