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Apr 22, 2013 at 10:35am IST

WB chit fund scam: Accused of shielding company, Mamata calls for a high-level meeting

Kolkata: As the chit fund meltdown is spreading like a contagion in rural Bengal, a 50-year-old woman, who had deposited Rs 30,000 in Saradha Group, on Sunday, succumbed to her injuries after she set herself on fire. The woman set herself on fire on Saturday evening at her home after coming to know that the company had gone bust.

Meanwhile, the Mamata government is on the defensive with the Left Front accusing it of shielding the promoters.

"My mother was devastated and she was only thinking of how she will get back her money. She couldn't take it and killed herself," deceased woman's son Bhola Pramanik said.

The chit fund meltdown is driving lakhs of investors into desperation. Agents too are facing the brunt with hounded neighbours and friends who invested money in the company. Many agents have fled their homes. On Friday an agent killed himself in Durgapur. On Sunday another agent consumed poision.

Meanwhile, the owner of Saradha group, Sudipta Sen is still at large. Accused of shielding the rogue company, Mamata has called a high-level meeting.

"If we find anyone from the Trinamool involved in this and if there is evidence we will take action against them," TMC General Secretary Mukul Roy said.

For now both the Trinamool and the Left Front are blaming each other and distancing themselves from this crisis, crisis of a scale that the state has never seen before with lakhs of people affected and thousands of crores at stake. The pressure is mounting on Mamata to protect the investors and agents who have lost their money and also her crucial rural vote bank with two elections Panchayat and Lok Sabha to be held within a year.

In 2009, the Left Front had passed a bill to protect depositors which did not get the President's nod. "What did the new government do with the complaint? What had happened to the bill that we had forwarded to the central government? It was a very strong bill," Former Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta said.

Cornered, the government is now mulling a new law to flush out companies collecting small savings illegally.