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At inquiry into Saradha's chit-fund scam, stories of loss and despair

At inquiry into Saradha's chit-fund scam, stories of loss and despair
Kolkata Retired engineer A K Ray had invested seven lakh rupees in the last five years in various schemes of the Saradha group that collapsed last week. He was among many investors who lined up today to depose before a commission set up by the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to inquire into the Saradha collapse.

The investors came from across the state to meet the 4 members of the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission, which began work in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Mr Ray, 65, was one of the first to get an appointment. The seven lakh that he put into Saradha included a lot of his retirement benefits and he hopes he will get back at least that principle amount from a Rs 500-crore fund announced by the state government. "Now our hopes are pinned on Mamata Banerjee," he says.

Rajesh Paul's investment was smaller. From July 2012, Paul began investing 1000 rupees a month into a holiday investment scheme of the Saradha group. The scheme promised him a return of Rs 25000 on his investment of Rs 16000 in October 2013. He is more confident than Mr Ray that he will get his money back.

Mr Paul's story threw light on how Saradha operated in rural Bengal. The 28-year-old, who lives in Madhyamgram, says he made his investment after "some unemployed youth in our locality who were known to us, requested us to invest in Saradha. They said it would mean good returns for us and would also help them get commissions. That's why we invested."

Lakhs of small investors have lost their savings in the Saradha collapse. When she announced the commission last week, Mamata Banerjee said it would also recommend names of those who would get a refund from the government's 500-crore relief fund.

About 300 people appeared before the commission on its first day of work, hoping to get on that list.
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