iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Aizawl:, November 07, 2013
Much before the Saradha storm, Mizoram endured Chiahpuam that hit 10,000 families across the urban landscape. The victims have now regrouped to elect whoever can get their money back.

Chiahpuam was a Ponzi scheme that caught the fancy of Mizos a decade ago until the bubble burst in 2008. Hundreds of investors, mostly government servants, found that they had sunk `80-90crore in a fake bank.

A few arrests were made but the assembly elections that year stole the focus from the investors’ plight. And the money confiscated from the scam masterminds — the real culprits, allegedly government officers, were never caught — was locked away in a savings account of the Aizawl superintendent of police (SP).

“The investors say the police seized around Rs. 25 crore, but the account of the Aizawl SP has only Rs. 12 crore, meant for redistribution to all depositors,” Helena Malsawmkimi, chairperson of the Mizoram Women Workers’ Union, which is fighting for justice to the depositors, said.

“We want all the confiscated assets and money to be returned to the depositors, besides blocking the accounts of all suspects and enforcement of Mizoram Protection of Interest of Depositors Act of 2003.”

Many like former schoolteacher H Thanhlira, she said, were literally hounded to deposit their post-retirement money in Chiahpuam. Thanhlira, 70, has gone back to the primitive jhum or shifting cultivation to sustain his family of seven.