Bengal minister arrested in Saradha scam

Bengal minister arrested in Saradha scam

In its biggest catch in the Saradha scam probe, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra.

The arrest is likely to significantly affect the morale of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), Mitra being one of the closest aides of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and a popular leader.

Mamata called the arrest “political vendetta” and a “dirty conspiracy”. “What has happened is illegal and unconstitutional. It is a dangerous step to destroy democratic institutions. My government condemns the arrest of Madan Mitra in the strictest of terms,” Mamata told newspersons at the secretariat.

“It is a conspiracy, very dirty conspiracy, I ask the prime minister to put me in jail first. He (Mitra) was called as a witness. Within a few hours he was arrested. Is it not  political vendetta?” added the furious chief minister.

She said the TMC will hit the streets from Saturday and threatened to take up the issue in Parliament.

The CBI, which summoned Mitra for questioning on Friday, arrested him at 4:10 pm after hours of grilling on various aspects of the scam.

The arrest came after the agency established Mitra’s rapport with Saradha chairman Sudipto Sen, and  the various positions he held — officially and unofficially — in the group, sources said. While the CBI had summoned Mitra on November 18 too, he had stayed away.

He even got himself admitted to a private hospital in the city, complaining of chest pain and other ailments, but later shifted to a state-run hospital where he is an executive committee member.  The minister refused to get himself discharged from hospital, with reports suggesting that he was scared of facing CBI.

On Thursday, Mitra reached the CGO Complex in central Kolkata at 11 am and underwent several phases of grilling, during which he reportedly avoided a number of questions.
Sources said Mitra was declared president of Saradha Group Employees’ Union, but there were no activities.

The agency had earlier grilled Mitra’s former assistant Bapi Karim, who is said to have revealed crucial information on the minister’s involvement with the scam.

The minister reportedly attended several Saradha-organised programmes as a guest, where he praised Sen for generating employment and urged people to invest with Saradha.

The MLA from Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas is a popular face of the Trinamool.

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