Hundreds of agents of various financial networking company, on Saturday (May 11) gathered under the banner of Assam Agents Association (Networking company), demanding government to get the money back from the various chit fund companies including Saradha that has looted the people of the state. Besides, the agents also demanded security as the lives of the agents have become vulnerable following the shut down of chit fund companies. The depositors are bothering the agents to get their money back and thus pressuring them, and also assaults them, even registering police case. Thus it has become difficult for the agents to stay at their homes, in fact many have to be on the run from the public. “I was literally abused, depositors come to my home daily for their money, we are unable to make them understand, so even we don’t get the interest we want only the investment money back” says, Ranjita Basumatary who came from Dhupdhara to join the protest. Echoing the sentiments of the protestors Amina Khatun says, “ it has become difficult for us even to come out of our homes, the customers are asking us to pay their money from our own pockets, our seniors told us not to worry about the money back guarantee....”
The protestors took out a rally with play cards that read, WE WANT OUR MONEY BACK, PROVIDE US SECURITY, EMPLOYEE 20 lakhs AGENTS, etc, as they shouted slogans in the busy GS road, in 6th Mile area.
We want the government to help the money return to the public, says the secretary of the association Narayan Saikia. He adds, there are around 20 to 30 lakh agents who have become unemployed now, the government cannot escape for being responsible since everything has happen with their full knowledge. “Had we knew this situation would have arise which would cause unemployment problems, it would had been better had taken up arms” says Saikia. He also said about the Mamta Banarjee government that has promised a 500 crore package to the investors. However he does not expect the Assam government to do the same, instead just help to get the invested money back. “We are protesting today only for our customers, we want that investors should get their money”.
Bijay Dutta, an agent from Arunachal Pradesh, says, “we have collected the money that was deposited in the office, we did not play any foul play….if the govt. does not help us to get the money back or help us get employment, we will be forced to take bad road…..”
It is to be noted that Chief Minister Gogoi had earlier made it clear that the government have funds to help out the losers. There are people who are blaming the agents for the crisis. At the same time it is also a fact that thousands of people were earning some money just by being an agent for networking financial companies, including women who wanted to help their families economically. There is no denying that groups like Sarada, which has promoted their business through investing in media houses, biscuit factories and such others had not only won the faith of the poor but also elite class and thus in this situation the agents have just become a hate target in their own backyards.
There is also much possibility that this ground situation will help many of those fraud agents and officials to escape from their ill doings. However, the story of the majority of the common agents can’t be drawn parallel with the formers.
The government has turned a blind eye towards the victims but no doubt that the government agents have already craved their niche out of it. As of now there is little hope for the victims getting justice and their money back from any CBI cases filed relating to Chit Fund companies.
Chief Minister Gogoi time and again took pride for launching a probe into chit fund companies two years back. But had it not been the initiative of the west Bengal government, the government till date would have struggle even to find the tail of the exploitation. In such case, the loot would have still continue and that also with the knowledge of the Government and thus government just cannot shy away from its responsibility. The people of the state should rather be thankful to the West Bengal government for bringing things to the public domain. It was with the media effort that the government was compelled to take some steps against chit fund companies. Government had forgotten the JVG financial scam that took place in the Nineties, besides there wqs no one raising voice against this chit fund companies.
For many the agents now have become a joke. Various social organisations have also failed to protest against the loot so far.