Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 10:
Braving the scorching sun, thousands of duped chit fund investors of Odisha, under the banner of ‘Arthika Sansthamanankadwara Kshyatigrastanka Milita Mancha’ (ASKMM), today took out a massive rally from Master Canteen square to Lower PMG Squarehere demanding early compensation from the state government.
Holding placards and shouting anti-government slogans, the duped investors from all corners of the state took part in the rally.
Addressing the rally, ASKMM chief advisor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik took a swipe at the state government for its gross apathy towards the hapless investors.
“We are holding this rally to let the government know that we don’t believe in its claim of returning the investors their money anymore. The corpus fund was a political tool to silence the investors and it worked well for the ruling party. They forgot all about it after winning the election. We demand action against those who looted crores from the innocent people of Odisha,” Patnaik said.
National Secretary of CPI D Raja, who was in the state, also launched a broadside against the state government.
“People have been looted. It is a fact. The government must show sympathy towards people who have lost their lifetime’s savings. The government should also ask the CBI to pursue the case in all seriousness and with a sense of urgency. It is matter of utter regret that the state government is not keen on helping its own people,” said Raja.
The tales of trouble of victims were telling. While a widowed lady spoke of her agony after losing her life’s savings, a student expressed how his relations have changed with the changing financial fortunes of his family and his helplessness in the scheme of things.
“I have lost two lakh rupees. That was all I had. I have a daughter to marry off and a son who is in college. Now, I don’t care about interest, but can’t forget my investment either. The government, which was aware of the activities of the chit fund companies, gave them a free hand to run their illegal business in the state and these companies subsequently looted us. It’s the time for the government to pay back the money, at least our investment,” said Shanti Pradhan, who is the sole earning member of her family.
“One of my fellow villagers, who used to be a chit fund agent, lured us by offering interest rates higher than banks. I urged my father to invest all that he earned from the sale of our crops with these fraudsters. Later, the company went bust and we lost our money in 2012. My father has been cursing me ever since and asking me to get the money back,” rued Ajay Sahoo, an investor of Baleswar district.
“I had no reason to doubt them as they told us about their success stories and showed us their photos with top ruling party leaders and ministers. The TV channels were flooded with the advertisement of these companies. I am not a finance or law expert to know what RBI has to say. The state government should have reined in these companies. Instead, it preferred to stay with them to get a lion’s share. Isn’t it large scale loot by the government itself? I have nothing to say for or against CBI investigation and the Chit Fund Commission of Inquiry. All I want is, the government should to pay back my money,” he added.
Ruling party spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb, however, was quick to dismiss any charges of government negligence and suggested the issue should not be politicised. Stating that the investors are going to suffer due to politicisation, he said the state government is trying its best to compensate the investors at the earliest possible.
“The government has not neglected them. The CBI investigation is being dome on the orders of the the Supreme Court. The state government has no authority to influence the CBI. The government has taken steps to refund the duped investors of their investment. The issue should not be politicized. The people, the small investors are going to suffer because of politics. We are fast forwarding the process to refund the money and would soon come out with the details,” he pointed out.