Kolkata – Resolution proposed at the citizens’ convention on the recent chit funds scam

June 3, 2013

Resolution proposed at the citizens convention called by APDR, held at Calcutta Students’ Hall on May 16, 2013

The ‘chit fund’ scam: Business based on gambling – people left pennyless

Political parties, the state, the government are involved. Human rights violated, legal rights broken.

Already seventeen people have committed suicide for not being able to withstand the impact of loss. One person has been murdered. There are apprehensions and allegations of more killings.

Click here to read the original document in Bengali

The recent public discussions in West Bengal are much impacted by the scam of well-known investment companies, known as chit fund companies. In the beginning, the hullabaloo started with the companies under the Saradha Group. But from the government statistics it is found that the number of such chit fund companies is a huge 300. How many people have suffered, have been cheated, in what ways, nobody knows the exact figure. Those who are supposed to keep track of such numbers, the administration, the government – it is alleged that they themselves have given patronage to the growth of these illegal activities. It has been alleged that legal provisions which exist to check the illegal businesses have been rendered inactive by the machination of government official and political bigwigs, who have also made use of the legal loopholes. The cheated people have been trapped in the ponzi net of illegal investment companies. In the same way, ministers, MPs, political leaders, the government, administration, police bigwigs, media company owners, journalists, few actresses, intellectuals, painters, football administrators, even retired army officers, are involved in the carefully cast spider web of corruption. All of them have shared the loot of the saving of common men and have helped in continuing the theft. By showcasing them, the cheats have tried to gain the trust of common men.

Nobody paid attention to the warnings, or letters, of those who understood that an illegitimate activity was going on. No government, the state or the central, the present or the past, paid heed. Neither did the RBI, or SEBI, who were supposed to monitor such activities. It has been alleged some higher ups in these institutions have been paid to keep quiet. APDR believes that these are the poisonous fruits of neoliberal policies, of casino economy, or globalisation, followed both by the central and state government.

Not only did the government allowed the scam to continue by turning a blind eye, different schemes of the state and central government have chased and cornered people into a trap laid by the swindlers. Few poor, common people, have regular source of income, or a secure future. The little medical facilities which used to exist have vanished with the impact of pro-market policy of globalisation. Due to privatisation in education and the anarchy prevailing there, one cannot avoid huge expenses when one plans education for the children. People are compelled to save, for emergency needs, whenever possible. Even the provident fund of ordinary service holders is stolen by the employer. In spite of legal provisions, not a single person is punished for these transgressions. Pensions are vanishing. Those who are in the unorganised sector do not even have the security of employment. Learning from practical experience, everyone tries to save, whenever he can.

On the one hand there is this dire need to save, on the other the interest rate in government schemes are from 3.5% to 8.5%, whereas the rate of inflation is more than 10%. As a result, by keeping the hard earned money in these schemes, one gets less real value at the end of the term. In this situation, the chit fundwalas have foregrounded the leaders, ministers, government officials, film stars, have used the near ones living in a locality, to allure the ordinary people. People have fallen in the trap.

At the same time, the government which has not provided livelihood, has virtually forced employable people to work as agents of swindler companies. The government has even publicised these as employment created by it (otherwise the much publicised lakhs of employments post-poribarton are impossible to account for). There is no possibility of secure employment for the rural people. Through the hundred days employment guarantee programme, which is a relief programme, the government is merely trying to manage a crisis situation temporarily.

The government ought to have warned – which it did not do. Not because it was unable to. Like many other knowledgeable quarters APDR is of the opinion that people have been pushed in the harm’s way in a planned manner. Those who are involved and had a share in the 280 lakh crores rupees scams of the central government, and scams of at least the same amount of the state governments, are behind this. Around 1.5 lakh crores rupees saved in banks and LIC by the people of this country have been borrowed by the industrialists, and have not been returned. We don’t even know how many lakh crores worth of assets of the people of the country have been converted into black money and accumulated in foreign banks. Forget about prosecuting or seizure of property of the culprits the government will not even reveal their names. This is because these are the people who run the government, they decide who will be in which position. We get excited over Coalgate, 2G, helicopter and such scams. Enquiries are conducted. Who conducts them? Experience of APDR and other ordinary people is that there is not a single investigating agency which can conduct an independent, unbiased enquiry. Sometimes commissions are instituted. When their reports are not to the liking of the ruling party or corporate honchos, they do not see the light of the day.

In the event surrounding the chit fund scam, that the government has failed to fulfil its legal duty to people goes without saying. APDR sees this as a matter of human rights. Already seventeen people have committed suicide for not being able to withstand the impact of loss. One person has been murdered. There are apprehensions and allegations of more killings. In the face of violation of legal and human rights of so large section of population the state government has taken the role of protecting its corrupt supporters. There is a real fear that eventually the swindlers behind the scam will benefit from this.

The security of saving is linked with economic security of people and is related with their general security and right to life. The government is bound to protect this right.

The events demonstrate that the criminals have got a chance to shield themselves due to the actions of the government. The government has instituted a commission. The police and CID have initiated enquiry. Past events have shown that the aim of such commissions is to prepare a report which suits government’s interests (otherwise there is chance to meeting the fate of Damayanti Sen). The demand for CBI enquiry has been raised. Due to the political equations between the centre and the state, the state government is not considering such enquiry safe. As a result the question that comes to mind is will the end result of commission, CID, CBI be a big zero.

The state has been on a project to snatch away jal, jami, jangal from the people of this country and hand them over to the corporate. APDR believes that the chit fund scam to steal economic wealth of the common people is a different avatar of the same project. Incidentally it has to be mentioned that the chit fund companies are also involved in the loot of land, natural resources and government assets.

In this perspective today’s convention demands,

# All political leaders, ministers, MPs, police officials along with the owners of swindler companies involved with ‘chit fund’ scam should be immediately arrested, legal actions should be taken against them.
# By seizing of their property the affected people have to be compensated.
# The state has to provide right employment so that all can get the constitutional and human right of respectable livelihood.
# By applying the existing laws and by legislating new laws scams of such nature must be stopped.
# The government small saving schemes have to be reconstituted in such a way that the earnings from them are attractive to the common people and they do not get trapped by cheats. Post office and small saving schemes of banks have to be expanded so that they are accessible by common people.

At the same time APDR appeals for making people aware of the organised economic and social crimes that are perpetrated on the security rights of common people.

Proposed by Amitdyuti Kumar, executive president, APDR.