Once the most powerful minister in the Tarun Gogoi government, Himanta Biswa Sarma was today grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation for over eight hours in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.
Sarma was asked to appear before the Special Investigation Team headed by Joint Director Rajiv Singh at the CGO Complex in Kolkata.
Sarma, who was in Delhi, reached the Kolkata CBI office at around 9.45 am. He came out of the office at around 6.30 pm.
He was apparently questioned for his purported proximity with Saradha group chief Sudipta Sen.
The agency reportedly asked him about his alleged role in allowing Saradha to spread its network in Assam and his alleged involvement in business activities of the ponzi company under probe.
But he told media persons waiting outside that he was quizzed only for about 90 minutes, and that too in three separate sessions by three different officers. “I was asked questions by an Inspector for about 35 minutes, by an SP for 20–25 minutes and by a Joint Director for 30–35 minutes. That is all,” he claimed.
His name had appeared in a letter Saradha chief Sudipta Sen had reportedly written to the investigating agency. In that letter, Sen had named the high and mighty who had allegedly taken “protection money” from him and had also blackmailed him.
After coming out of the CBI office, Sarma told journalists the he was asked about his meeting with Sen.
“They asked me about my meetings with him. I told the CBI that I met Sen just once. They also asked if I attended their meetings. I told them I was there at the inauguration of Saradha’s biscuit factory at Dhubri,” Sarma said.
“I have clarified everything they wanted to know. If required, I will come again,” the Jalukbari MLA said.
Significantly, Sarma alleged that the controversial letter in which his name also figured was not written by Sen. “I feel it was written by some powerful politician in Wet Bengal who wanted to malign people like us. There is a political conspiracy against me,” Sarma claimed.
Sarma also claimed that he had become “weak” since Tarun Gogoi’s son entered politics. “I have become weak since Gaurav Gogoi entered politics in 2011. Before that I as a powerful person. This letter (purportedly by Sen) was written in 2011. It was around that time that the chief minister had started disliking me,” Sarma claimed.
Interestingly, Sarma also claimed that he will not contest elections till he is given a “clean chit” by the agency. “If I the CBI doesn’t give me a clean chit before 2016 elections, I will not contest the election,” he asserted.
CBI had earlier searched his residence in Guwahati.
His party colleague Anjan Dutta, who purportedly had business transaction with Saradha, was also grilled by the CBI a day before.
Himanta’s close aide and singer Sadananda Gogoi has been already arrested and chargesheeted in the chit fund scam. Gogoi had introduced Sen to Himanta.
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