Thousands of locals across the Farrakka block of Murshidabad had over the last year been fretting over the fate of their investments at a Maldabased private firm, with little hope that their money would come doubled, as they had been led to believe.
With no word on the fate of their money parked with the Sindhuja Farming India Ltd and Group, a little known private investment firm, which collected an estimated Rs. 1.3 crore on the promise of doubling the deposits after a year, thelocalsnowfeartheworst.The duped locals also have no word on the whereabouts of the top management of the company.
The district administration in Murshidabad has already begun a probe into the fraud following a directive from the chief minister’s office. The rogue investment firm had begun a unique ‘money saving’ scheme at their branch on the Farakka-NTPC crossing a couple of years back. Many fell for the lure of the lucrative offer and parked their hard-earned savings and investments in hope that the same would be doubled within a year. However, as the date for the promised double refund of their investments neared, owners and top honchos of the private firm shut operations at the Farakka unit and went away, leaving no word on their whereabouts with either the agents or the gullible investors.
“I had been looking for a job a couple of years back, before I got hired along with 500 others as salaried agents at the Sindhuja firm. We had been assigned to collect money from rural households in lieu of doubling the investments within a year. We had been briefed about the unique money saving scheme by Goutam Lokesh, the chief managing director (CMD), Mahasweta Basak Sarkar, the managing director and Saibal Agarwal, the project manager,” Sheikh Nizamuddin, a resident of the Tildanga area of Farakka, said. “Wecollected over Rs. 1.3 crore from several households across Murshidabad over the last two years and parked the deposits with the company. However, when the deadline neared for the firm to return double the investments as promised, the management balked and got to pushing back the date of return of the deposits. That was before they shut down the Farakka office and fled,” Akhirul Sheikh, another agent of the firm, said. “We later learned that the CMD, MD and the project manager had all been based in Malda all this time. Saibal Agarwal, our project manager, is also a Congress councillor in Malda town. After repeated requests to show up in the light of the issues with investors, they arrived at Farakka on August 26 and settle the matter with agents,” Sufiyan Sheikh, another agent, told HT.
“We gheraoed the top honchos for over 40 hours, but they couldn’t give us anything specific on refunding the money of investors. But a local MLA aided by the police later forced us to release them. However, before leaving Farakka, they promised to return all deposits by the first week of September in an undertaking to police. But they haven’t refunded a penny till date,” Sheikh said.