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CBI going slow on chit fund probe, alleges petitioner

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Ahmedabad: Alok Jena, the sole petitioner in the chit fund scam, on Tuesday accused the CBI of going soft in the investigation into the multi-billion rupee scandal.

Jena, who was here on a drive to mobilise victims of the chit fund scam, told reporters that Gujarat had the maximum number of victims of chit fund companies followed by Odisha.

The Odisha-based social activist said the Gujarat government had “deliberately bypassed” notices by the Supreme Court to submit details of the number of chit fund firms operating in the state, their stakes and inter-state links.

According to him, 27 people have committed suicide because of the scam since 2012 in Gujarat.

It was in a response to Jena’s public interest litigation that the Supreme Court on May 9, 2014, tasked the Central Bureau Investigation to probe the chit fund scam.

Inquiries by the CBI had led to the arrests of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Ramchandra Hansda, BJD chief whip Pravat Tripathi, Odisha’s advocate general Ashok Mohanty and summons to 48 ruling party leaders, including eight ministers.

The social activist, however, alleged that the CBI has mysteriously gone slow after investigating officer M.K. Sinha picked up Saroj Sahu, the power of attorney holder of the bank accounts of the BJD and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

He claimed that the same evening after Sahu was freed by the CBI, the chief minister left for Delhi where he reportedly met union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and after staying in a farmhouse for 12 days, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said that following the meeting between Patnaik and Modi, the CBI’s investigating officer Sinha was taken off the probe and it was transferred to the CBI technical branch.

After the Supreme Court’s order, 44 chit fund companies are being investigated by the CBI.

Of these, the names of 11 companies, including West Bengal-based Saradha and Gujarat-based Astha International, were submitted to the Supreme Court by Jena.

“In response to the Supreme Court’s directive, I submitted the names of only 11 chit fund companies about which I was aware then. However, the apex court has kept the case open leaving scope for any citizen in the country to bring to its notice the names of other chit fund companies which need to be investigated by the CBI,” Jena said.

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