Sudipta Sen, two colleagues found after West Bengal police tracked their mobile phones
Kolkata: Sudipta Sen, chairman and managing director of the now discredited Saradha Group, was on Tuesday arrested from a hotel in the Jammu and Kashmir tourist destination of Sonmarg by the local police, seven days after West Bengal launched a manhunt for him.
He and two other Saradha Group executives, who were arrested along with him, were easily identified because a West Bengal-registered utility vehicle was found parked at the hotel, said Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Sen, who was close to key Trinamool Congress leaders, was wanted for duping tens of thousands of depositors in West Bengal of an undetermined amount, believed to run into several thousands of crores of rupees.
He decamped after Saradha failed to repay matured deposits his agents had mobilized for the group in the past five-six years.
The police in West Bengal on Monday alerted the district police of Ganderbal in Jammu and Kashmir, having tracked the mobile phones of Sen and his colleagues to Sonmarg.
Sen’s whereabouts were determined on Monday evening after the police searched guest registers at all hotels, Jammu and Kashmir Police said. A guard was immediately posted outside the hotel in which he was holed up along with two others.
The other Saradha Group officials arrested from Sonmarg on Tuesday are Sen’s executive assistant Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Kumar Chauhan, who managed the group’s operations in Jharkhand, the police said.
Sen left Kolkata in a car in the early hours of 10 April, according to Arnab Ghosh, a detective department official in Kolkata. He travelled to Ranchi and returned the car to Kolkata along with its driver. Driven by Chauhan from Rachi in another car (WB-22-U-6742), Sen wound through central and northern India to arrive in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.
Several teams of the Kolkata police were trailing Sen and his accomplices from Ranchi. “He was ahead of our teams by one or two days, but we were able to trail him through toll gates and hotels," Ghosh said.
A team of Kolkata Police is to arrive in Sonmarg on Wednesday. It is to seek so-called transit remand, or the approval of a court to bring Sen and the others back to Kolkata under detention.
Though the police have finally managed to detain Sen, there is no trace of any recoverable money. The 40 bank accounts of the Saradha Group that the West Bengal administration has frozen over the past week were found to have no money, according to Ghosh.
However, six trunks filled with property documents have been seized by the police from the offices of the Saradha Group, he added, but the worth of these properties isn’t immediately known.
Meanwhile, associates of Mukherjee, Sen’s executive assistant, who was also a director in some of his closely held companies, said in Kolkata on Tuesday that she was being detained by Sen against her will.
She called her lawyer in Kolkata on Monday to seek his advice on how to surrender, one of them said, asking not to be named.