CBI questions Tripura Minister in chit fund scam case
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials on Thursday interrogated Tripura Social Welfare Minister Bijita Nath in connection with a case of the Rose Valley chit fund scam.
CBI Inspector Bratin Ghoshal accompanied by his colleague and a woman official of the State Bank of India questioned the minister at her official chamber in the civil secretariat for about one-and-half hours.
The CBI officials, who arrived here on Wednesday from Kolkata, refused to talk to the media about the questioning of the Minister.
"What the CBI officials wanted to know from me, I have told them accordingly. What I have told the CBI officials and what they asked me, I would not disclose at the moment," an emotionally charged Minister later told the media.
"I was politically victimised. I do not know from where it was spread about my reported involvement with Rose Valley chit organisation," said the 50-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader who also holds the Science and Technology and Environment portfolios.
"A false CBI notice involving my name and today's meeting was also circulated among the media. The CBI officials told me that they did not divulge anything to the media about today's (Thursday's) questioning," the Minister said and urged the media to be more cautious while writing about a minister and a woman.
Earlier, there were reports in a section of the media that Nath was indirectly involved with the Rose Valley chit fund organisation. However, she had denied the allegations several times.
Tripura's Law and Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty said that it was widely known that the CBI has been used by the ruling parties at the Centre.
"No CPI-M leaders and ministers were involved with any chit fund organisations," he said.
CPI-M Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar said: "If CBI wants any information from the minister, she would share, there is no problem in it."
The CBI notice, a copy of which was available among a section of the media, told Nath: "It appears that you are acquainted with the circumstances of the case (in Kolkata) under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banking) Act, 1978, against the Chairman, Rose Valley Hotel and Entertainment Limited and others."
The Trinamool Congress, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party separately charged the Left Front government with promoting illegal chit fund organisations and unauthorised Non-Banking Financial Organisations (NBFCs) in Tripura.
They also demanded the Minister's removal for her alleged "involvement with the unlawful chit fund bodies".
The Tripura government, which enacted a law in 2000 to deal with the illegal NBFCs and chit fund organisations, since 2016 began confiscating all movable and immovable properties of the Rose Valley chit fund organisation in the state.
The chit fund organisation is now under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, and its sole proprietor and Chairman Gautam Kundu was arrested in Kolkata in 2015.
The Tripura High Court had in 2015 asked the state government to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe unlawful NBFCs and chit fund organisations.
The Tripura government last week appointed Deputy Inspector General of Police Uttam Majumder to head the SIT replacing Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) K.V. Sreejesh.
Opposition parties lashed out at the state government for changing the SIT chief.
In May 2013, the Tripura government had referred 37 cases related to chit fund companies and NBFCs to the CBI. The central probe agency, however, took up only five cases.