Kolkata, Feb 11: Ghosts of the Saradha chit fund have come to haunt the politics of West Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha election this year. The state saw a massive federal crisis a few days ago when the central investigating agency CBI approaching Rajeev Kumar, the police commissioner of Kolkata, for examination related to the scam.
The chief minister of the state, Mamata Banerjee, herself came out in support of the commissioner and staging a dharna against the BJP-led Centre alleging that it was a deliberate attempt to subvert her government.
The issue has resumed after the Supreme Court's intervention and the questioning of Rajeev Kumar is taking place in Shillong, Meghalaya.
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But even as the parties play blame game over the scam worth over few thousand crores, how are those who were affected by it - be it the depositors or the agents who were in the firing line when the Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2013?
Bengali daily Ananadabazar Patrika came out with a report on such an agent named Prafulla Samanta who tried to end his own life twice since facing the depositors' wrath but eventually decided to do something positive about it. He now sells flowers in a market in Bagnan in Howrah district of the state to pay off the money of the depositors.
He had also worked as an agent for another firm Rose Valley which has also been found in another major chit fund scam, even bigger than Saradha in terms of money involved.
Every evening, he arrives at the market on his motorbike carrying flowers. He announced in a mic that many people lost their savings by investing in Saradha and Rose Valley chit funds and he is trying to pay off their money by selling flowers. He urges people to buy his flowers so that he can succeed in his mission.
Samanta, aged around 40, is not much bothered about the probe into the scam, which many believe has had political influences. He said he did not know whether the criminals would be brought to justice but he was doing his bit by trying to pay off the money that people lost through him.
He owed the depositors Rupees six lakh and has already paid off half the money by selling flowers over four years, the report added.
The man had a small shop earlier and started working as a chit fund agent in 2011. He even sold his hotel for Rs 4 lakh and invested the same into the scheme.
When disaster struck in 2013, his family faced uncertainty. The investors attacked his house and he even begged on trains with his wife. Twice, Prafulla tried to commit suicide but was caught by others.
Then he took a positive stand and started floriculture on a big land and started to make a turnaround. The investors have also kept faith on the man seeing his sincerity in returning their money, said the ABP report.