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Rediff News  All News  » Business » The depressing story of Saradha agents and investors

The depressing story of Saradha agents and investors

Last updated on: April 26, 2013 13:09 IST

Image: Saradha agents stage dharna in front of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's residence in Kolkata.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/ Indrani Roy and Dipak Chakraborty in Baruipur/Kolkata

They are penniless, homeless and have lost all hopes of living a peaceful life.

They have been spending sleepless nights and going hungry ever since the news of the chit fund scam came to light.

Their future has now become uncertain with their hard earned savings squandered, and for many it was the only source of revenue for the last several years.    

They are out on the streets, crying themselves hoarse for compensation.

Meet the hapless agents and investors of the Saradha group of companies that went bust with its owner Sudipta Sen in police custody at the moment.

All offices of Saradha are shut until further notice.

No one seems to know what will happen to people's investment amounting to millions of rupees.

According to unofficial estimates, Saradha had about 350,000 marketing staff and the group's entire business involved not less than 14 lakh (1.4 million) people.

Most of the Saradha agents have fled their homes, some taking part in a dharna in front of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's home while others are just roaming around aimlessly, without proper food and water and sleeping by the roadside. 

"We can't return home. Our clients will kill us," a Saradha agent told on a hot summer afternoon.

"We are finished. That conman (Sudipta Sen) in connivance with the state government ruined our lives.

"We can't but commit suicide. May God give us the strength and courage to take our own lives," he said.

Click NEXT to know more about the sad plight of Saradha agents and investors...

'I have lost people's faith, I must die'

Image: Abhijit Biswas and his wife Tanusree.
Photographs: Indrani Roy/

Abhijit Biswas, 28

I have been an agent of Saradha for the last 4 years. My code no was 1697.

I left a private company's job to join Saradha. My wife too joined me soon after. Her code no was 34748.

Life started looking up for us. We both started drawing a salary of Rs 12,000 a month. Rs 12,000 is a good pay for any rural family.

Our clients started growing in numbers. Some got good returns for their investment and that inspired them to put in more money.

At the moment, our total liability stands at Rs 17 lakhs (Rs 1.7 million). On top of that, I invested Rs 2,00,000 from my own savings.

Where will I get all this money from? Even if we sell ourselves, my wife and I won't be able to retrieve it.

We live in a small house along with my widowed mother, brother, sister-in-law, their children.

My wife gave birth to a baby girl last year. Wish she had not. For, now I can't afford to buy her milk.

Clients are knocking on our doors. We have nowhere to go.

We have lost people's faith. Death seems to be the only option.

. . .

'I am left with Rs 5 in my pocket'

Image: Siddhartha Das goes through his investment papers at his make-shift home.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Siddhartha Das, 30

I have been working as a Saradha agent for the last three-and-a-half years.

My father is a vegetable vendor. I used to work in a vegetable firm for Rs 3,500 a month.

To better our standard of living, I joined Saradha as a part time agent. I made the biggest mistake of my life. I should have been happy with my paltry salary.

I could never imagine that the company would do this to us. My total liability in Saradha stands at Rs 52,000.

I have been absconding from last Friday, lest clients beat me up.

I got married only 4 months back. How will I feed my wife?

Our family of six is destined to die of starvation. I can't return home, neither can I go to office.

Someone said we need to submit photocopies of our papers to the newly constituted commission so that we get compensation.

I had Rs 40 with me. After photocopying, I am left with only Rs 5.

I have no money to buy food tomorrow.

. . .

'Saradha debacle may lead to communal riots'

Image: Noor Mohammad Akhan.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Noor Mohammad Akhan, 47

I was a simple villager and was happy with my modest life earning only Rs 4,500 a month working in a private firm.

My wife works in MPS and earns more than me. It was she who motivated me to join Saradha.

Wish she didn't,  for, now my total liability stands at Rs 1,73,000.

I am out of my home, out of my office, wandering like a dead man. Ever since the Saradha debacle, I can't eat, can't sleep, just walk for hours aimlessly, like a zombie.

The neighbourhood that we live in is a friendly one. There is no trace of communalism here.

But now that so much money is at stake and so many Hindus and Muslims are involved, who knows, there might be a communal riots here.

It's a sad state of affairs.

. . .

'It was a mistake to trust the Trinamool Congress'

Image: Bidhan Chandra Mondal.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Bidhan Chandra Mondal, 32

Somehow, I feel responsible for the entire tragedy that has struck me and my colleagues in Saradha.

I have been an avid Trinamool Yuva supporter. I was dazed by the pomp and glamour of the Saradha group.

I was drawn by encouraging speeches of the Trinamool Congress ministers as also by their presence in most of the Saradha events.

How would I know all these were mere eyewash? I never doubted my party, neither did I ever question the integrity of our leaders.

But I made a huge mistake. I should have never put my faith in fraudsters.

I don't want to quote my liability following the Saradha mess.

All that I can say, I will sell all that I have (a shop) and pay back my clients' money.

I must take care of my wife and my son, who is a toddler. It's a pity that my involvement in politics brought such hardship for them.

Once done, I will snap all ties with politics. You can't trust politicians these days.

. . .

'I'll have to enter prostitution to pay my clients' back'

Image: Usha Mondal.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Usha Mondal, 35

Didi, I have may be forced into prostitution to save my family. There is no other way I can pay back Rs 55,000 to my clients.

My husband is a poor furniture maker. What he earns isn't just enough to feed our family of three. How will I take care of my two-year-old son?

Rs 55,000 is a lot of money. I have only seen such an amount in papers and that money has just disappeared.

My clients are after my life. Some of my male clients are dishing out indecent proposals.

At first, I was angry but with each passing day I realise I can only sell my body to earn the money that my clients lost because of me.  

Do you think suicide is a better option?

. . .

'Death is the only solution now'

Image: Mohammad Arif with his family.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Mohammad Arif, 33

I am in deep sea. The sense of loss is so profound that I feel suffocated.

I can't sleep at night and when my eyes give away, deadliest of nightmares jostle me back to hard reality.

I am left with only Rs 2,000 at the moment. I have been working as a Saradha agent for the last 2 years.

Initial returns to clients were good and my ambition grew. I managed to get fixed deposits worth Rs 3,25,000 and recurring deposits of Rs 9,000.

I myself invested close to Rs 2,00,000.  And here I am, counting my Rs 2,000 with my wife and 16-month-old son giving me company.

I will soon plan out a mass suicide. I can't bear to see my kin die of starvation.

We all will embrace death. That seems to be the best solution at the moment.

. . .

'My dream of a better life is shattered'

Image: Akbar Ali Mollah.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Akbar Ali Mollah, 35

I was never interested in small savings schemes. It was my friends who told me I would get good returns if I invest in Saradha.

I am getting great returns indeed. My hard earned money (approximately Rs 25,000) has gone down the drain.

I am not too educated. I don't know where to go to retrieve the money. I am asking around for help.

But everybody is in trouble. We are living in a pathetic state run by a strange government.

People tell me to go to a lawyer. It's a hilarious proposition. I am left with pittance to feed my family.

How can I pay a lawyer?

My hopes of a good life is shattered.

. . .

'I am on the run, living away from my family'

Image: Sahabuddin Mollah.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/

Sahabuddin Mollah, 38

I have been a Saradha agent for the last 3 years.

My business grew steadily with time and I was taking pride in my marketing abilities. Wish I were a little less complacent.

For, now my total liability stands at Rs 977,000. I am on the run, living away from my family for weeks.

Last week, my clients confiscated my 10-bigha land and made me sign on a Rs 50-stamp paper.

What I feel about is that because of a wrong choice made by me, my children (two sons and a daughter) and my wife are in great stress.

My eldest son appeared for Madhyamik Examination this year. My daughter is in Class IX.

They won't be able to continue further studies as I can't afford it any more. I failed them as a father. I feel miserable.