‘Sarma took Rs 3 cr from us’: Mamata shares letter by Saradha Group owner

Santanu Chowdhury
Sarma had been accused of receiving Rs 20 lakh per month from Sen for helping him run his business in Assam. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor)

Soon after the Supreme Court directed Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before CBI while it making it clear that he will not be arrested, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cited a 2013 letter purportedly written by jailed Saradha Group owner Sudipta Sen, in which he accused Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma of cheating him of at least "Rs 3 crore".

Speaking at the dharna site, she alleged that the central agency was "acting on the instructions of Modi babu".

"The agency is selectively targeting opposition leaders. Those who joined the BJP are safe and those who are raising their voices are culprits. There is an urgent need to save institutions. Why is CBI not taking action against those BJP leaders who took money from chit fund companies? Today I am sharing with you a document. Someone had submitted this document to our party office."

The letter, addressed to CBI's Anti-Corruption Branch in Kolkata and dated April 6, 2013, read, "Another high-level person has dramatically cheated me. He is Mr Hemanta Biswa Sarma. For the last six months, apart (from) one and half years, he has taken from us not less than Rs 3 crore all by cash and some vouchers have been signed by his office executives by some other means. This amount is also to be returned to the company for paying up the Bengal area creditors because this amount has always been given from Calcutta office."

READ : CBI pressure eased off on two in Saradha after they joined BJP

Reacting to the allegation, Sarma on Tuesday said he had fully cooperated with the probe into the Saradha scam. "The frivolous and baseless campaign by Mamata Didi against me is very painful. I am not fortunate enough like your Police Commissioner. I've joined the investigations and offered my full cooperation as a witness. And all this happened much much before I joined the BJP," he wrote on Twitter.

"It is very painful that Mamata Banerjee, whom I respect, is accusing me without verifying the facts and circumstances. CBI had called me as a witness and I joined the investigation as a witness, much before I joined BJP," he told a news channel.


That time when Mamata sought CBI probes

Despite hitting out at the CBI now, when she was opposition leader in West Bengal and the Left was in power, Mamata Banerjee had demanded investigations by the central agency into several cases. These include the 2007 Nandigram police firing and the rape and murder case of a 16-year-old girl in Singur.

Sarma had been accused of receiving Rs 20 lakh per month from Sen for helping him run his business in Assam. He was questioned by the CBI in November 2014, months after his house and a news channel owned by his wife in Guwahati were raided. However, he was not named in any chargesheet.

Mamata also hit out at the CBI over its investigations into previous cases in West Bengal including the 2007 Nandigram police firing in which 14 villagers were killed.