Residences of two former Assam ministers including former Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma – who was recently dismissed by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi – were among 12 premises that the CBI raided in Guwahati on Thursday in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
Other premises raided by the CBI included the residences of another former Congress minister Anjan Dutta, former Assam DGP Shankar Barua and well-known singer and filmmaker Sadananda Gogoi, as also office of NewsLive and three other television channels owned by former minister Sarma’s wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma.
“The CBI examined documents mainly related to advertisements that Saradha gave us, and took some documents along with some CDs for our office today,” said NewsLive executive editor Paragmoni Aditya. The CBI officials however remained tight-lipped, with one official saying a formal press note would be issued by its office in New Delhi.
Sarma, once most trusted lieutenant of Tarun Gogoi who later turned out to be bête noire, was dropped in July after he openly revolted and demanded ouster of the chief minister. While singer and filmmaker Sadananda Gogoi is said to be very close to Sarma, former Assam DGP Shankar Barua is close to Gogoi.
The CBI also conducted raids in two premises in Dhubri in western Assam where Saradha had set up a biscuit factory in 2010. The biscuit factory called Bhashank Foods (P) Ltd was inaugurated by then health minister Sarma.
Another prominent Congress leader, present legislator and former transport minister in the first Gogoi government (2001-2006), Anjan Dutta also came under CBI scanner with the agency raiding his residence here on Thursday. Dutta, who owns Ajir Dainik Batori, an Assamese daily, had tied up with Saradha to run his newspaper for sometime.
“Nobody should be allowed to go scotfree in connection with Saradha and other chit fund scams. Those found guilty must be punished,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said. He also claimed that it was his government that first sought a CBI investigation into the chit fund scams including Saradha.
Gogoi however was not sure under which particular case were the CBI raids conducted on Thursday. “I don’t know. It could be in the Bengal case which is being investigated under orders of the Supreme Court,” Gogoi said.