Chit fund scam: Mamata asks Bengal to smoke a little more to help raise Rs 500-cr relief fund

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Kolkata:  Mamata Banerjee announced a Rs 500 crore fund yesterday to refund some of the lakhs of depositors who have lost their savings in the Saradha chit fund collapse. The Chief Minister was apologetic as she announced a 10 per cent additional tax on cigarettes, suggesting, with the hint of a smile, that people could smoke more for a few days to help raise the money sooner.  (Watch video here)

The cigarette tax, Ms Banerjee said, would raise about Rs 150 crore for the fund. "We will tap other sources to get the rest of the amount...This will help the common people who are now in distress," she said, denying that her party, the Trinamool Congress, encouraged or exploited Sudipta Sen, the man who ran the chit fund scheme that collapsed in West Bengal last week. (Chit fund scam: How Saradha duped its investors)

"The Government is not involved in it, this is totally private...the government is only stepping in because it has a responsibility to the people," she said, promising that the guilty, whoever they were, would be punished.  

Mr Sen, who had been missing for more than a week, was arrested in Kashmir on Monday. He was brought to Kolkata late on Wednesday night. While he was on the run, he sent a letter to the CBI in which he claims he will "be committing suicide any moment." 
 (SudiptaSen: how he was traced and caught)

He has accused two Trinamool MPs of pressuring him to strike deals with them. In return, he says, Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose offered to "protect" his business from the state government. (Chit fund chief's letter-bomb lists national leaders, Mamata's MPs)

Mr Sen also names some senior Delhi politicians. But NDTV does not have independent verification of his allegations. The BJP has demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Trinamool's Srinjoy Bose says he has nothing to hide and is open to any investigation. He has also questioned the timing of Mr Sen's 18-page letter-bomb. "When he wants to run away he has made this complaint so his intention was to run away and make other people part of this tangle so that nobody can catch him. There has to be investigation and action but I find some of the allegations wild and baseless," Mr Bose said.


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