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Hundreds of investors and agents duped by deposit-taking companies, including Saradha Group, blocked important rail links in Kolkata on Friday, spelling a harrowing time for daily commuters in the morning rush hour.
The demonstration started at 7:30am at different busy sections of Howrah and Sealdah sections. Investors squatted on rails tracks, carrying placards and shouting slogans.
The Saradha scam estimated to be worth more than Rs 20 crore has kicked up a political storm in West Bengal, with the Left parties, Congress and the BJP attacking the ruling Trinamool Congress over the issue in this elections season.
While BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi has blamed chief minister Mamata Banerjee over the scam, the Trinamool has vouched for her honesty.
People at some stations of the Sealdah division alleged on Friday that supporters of the ruling party clashed with the agitators to stop them from holding the demonstration.
"… some people carrying Trinamool flags came and started beating us up," said a woman with a child on her lap.
Many alleged cheques distributed by the Shyamal Sen Commission, which was set up to return money to the affected, have bounced. But Sen said he did not have any such information.
"As far as I know, no cheque has bounced. I have already issued cheques to 3.95 lakh depositors. There might be some administrative reasons for some people not getting the cheque. Some of them might be due to the poll schedule," Sen told HT.
Former Naxalite leader Ashim Chatterjee said, "We have tried everything to attract the attention of the government, but failed. So, we tried this method on Friday out of desperation." He is a leader of a forum of depositors.
Thousands had deposited money in Saradha Group and other such companies that flourished in Bengal till the summer of 2013, before the Saradha empire collapsed.
An agitator said, "We have lost our valuable savings. But we don't know when will we get it back, if at all. The government is doing nothing."