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Odisha: Agitating chit fund investors postpone stir

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Bhubaneswar: Agitating duped chit fund investors, who were on an indefinite sit-in dharna in Odisha capital demanding refund of money, postponed their strike till February 22 after the State government today assured to fulfill their demands and to bring out a White Paper on the chit fund scam.

The decision was taken after a discussion was held here this afternoon between government officials and representatives of the protesting investors. Thousands protesters under the banner of the Chit Fund Khyatigrasta Milita Manch staged a huge rally at Lower PMG Square here today.

“The State government is aware about the demands (of the the duped investors) and supported it. The government will soon release a White Paper mentioning the steps being taken in this regard so far,” senior BJD leader and Rajya Sabha, MP Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, told reporters here soon after the meeting.

“The white paper will have detailed information about the number of chit fund companies involved in the scam, properties of the blacklisted chit fund companies seized. Besides, there will be complete information about the amount of money the chit fund companies have collected from people and the amount they owe to them,” Patnaik said.

He further said that the Finance Minister met a representative team of the Chit Fund Khyatigrasta Milita Manch and discussed ways how to resolve the issue.

The State government has also decided to speed up the identification process for the benefit of small investors. “A meeting will be held with district collectors on February 22 to decide the final action plan on how to intensify the entire process,” Patnaik added.

Jayant Das, Convener of the Chit Fund Khyatigrasta Milita Manch, who earlier in the day told they will continue their protest till the government refunds money, said they will decide the future course of action after February 23. “We are postponing our strike till February 22 as the government has assured to look into our demands. We will decide about our next steps only after February 23,” Das added.

Notably, the State government had set up Justice M.M. Das Commission in July 2013 to verify and return deposits collected by different chit fund companies.

The commission had submitted its first interim report in May 2016.

Submitting its sixth interim report earlier in the month, Das had told that 3.61 lakh small investors, around 50 per cent of the total, have been identified so far and it may take 2-3 more years to identify the other victims.

The commission identified small investors, with below Rs 10,000 deposits, to return their money on a priority basis.