The Jammu and Kashmir Police told NDTV that they detained three people last night on a request from the West Bengal police. A J&K police officer said the three have confessed to being Sudipta Sen and his colleagues (Read: Debjani, the woman behind Sudipta Sen).
The Mamata Banerjee government had ordered Mr Sen's arrest when he went missing last week soon after Saradha group offices across West Bengal began to shut down and many of its cheques bounced. With a huge default in repayments, the group has collapsed, leaving lakhs of fund collection agents and depositors in the lurch.
Securities and Exchange Board of India or SEBI today barred Saradha Realty from the securities market, ordering it to wind up all its existing investment schemes and refund the investors within three months. (Read)
A fund collection agent allegedly attempted suicide today because of the Saradha collapse (Read). On Sunday, a 50-year-old woman who had deposited Rs. 30,000 with the company set herself on fire.
Among the lakhs of agents left adrift and at the mercy of angry depositors who want their money back, are those who say they put their money and faith in the Saradha group because Trinamool leaders were seen as supporting it.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said the agents who say that belong to the CPM. She has emphatically said she knew nothing about Saradha's shady deals. She said yesterday that market regulator SEBI warned her about one chit fund two months ago, but she would not name the group.
The opposition has alleged that Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has close links with Sudipta Sen. They point out that Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh headed Saradha's media interests. Another Trinamool MP, Shatabdi Roy, features in Saradha's promotional material. And, they say, Mamata Banerjee had inaugurated two Saradha publications.
Kunal Ghosh has said that he was only a "salaried employee" and knew nothing about the chit fund. Party colleague Mukul Roy has said Ms Banerjee or the Trinamool have no links with the Saradha group or Mr Sen.
Ms Banerjee has blamed the Centre and the Left government that preceded hers for the chit fund scam. She has argued that chit funds are controlled by the Centre, which she said had failed to ensure a law that adequately protects investors. She said her government wants to bring an Ordinance to protect investors, but she would need the Centre to first withdraw the current law.
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Calcutta High Court for a CBI inquiry against the Saradha Group. The petition urges the court to appoint a receiver to seize properties of chit fund companies to auction them and pay back depositors.