AIZAWL, Aug 4 � Given a fresh hope by a recent Gauhati High Court order, depositors in what has become one of the biggest cheating scams ill-famed as the �Chiahpuam� here worth around Rs 300 crore which crashed in 2008, have demanded government return their money as per the High Court order in a similar cheating scam in Assam.
The money confiscated from the �collectors� is lying in three State Bank of India savings accounts held by the Aizawl Superintendent of Police along with houses, documents, pass books, vehicles and insurance investment documents from the cheaters.
Speaking at a press conference on behalf of the depositors was Helena Lalsawmkimi, a well known social activist, who confessed she was a defrauded victim of the scheme, who castigated the government for failing to appoint a Special Court under the existing law called �The Mizoram Protection of Interests of Depositors (In Financial Establishment Act, 2002 (Act no 14 of 2002 )� which has laid down the guidelines to deal with such mass cheating cases operated by unscrupulous persons.
She quoted from a 2011 judgement of a Senior Civil Judge H T C Lalrinchhana to enforce her point that the government had failed to take these steps. In his ruling in a similar case Lalrinchhana had directed the petitioners to take their case to the appropriate authority which to be authorized by the government under the Law mentioned above. The problem is that the government is yet to do this.
Instead defying all norms, the cheating cases were bundled into the Lok Adalat, on the express direction of the Chief Minister Lal Than Hawla. After sitting over it for years, a new Lok Adalat this month returned the cases to the district court on grounds that these cheating cases fell out of their judicial jurisdiction.
The depositors said that they have come to know that the amount of money held by the government has been reduced due to an evil nexus within the authorities who seem to be using the money or releasing it at will without any direction from the courts. Several crores are already missing while the landed properties is being mis-used by so called �representatives� of depositors. At the same time, no one seems to have any clue of where these landed properties numbering 47 are and the whereabouts of over 77 savings passbooks and insurance documents in which the cheats had deposited public money in their own names.
It is to be mentioned that in 2008 17 FIRs were filed against the cheats, who incidentally are walking around rich and free while thousands of their �victims� are struggling to recover from their monetary assault even after 5 years.
Lalsawmkimi said that this only goes to show that for the last five years the government has been lackadaisical in solving the issue which has impoverished over 10,000 families in the state. Among the �depositors� were pensioners, petty traders and ordinary people who were lured by the cheaters by promises of over 20 percent monthly interest. People were lured into it as these cheats bandied around the names of city personalities who were apparently part of the scheme initially. This was actually what convinced people to deposit. Several government officials and Church functionaries had invested in the �fake bank� scheme.
It may be mentioned that the government had issued public notices against investing in such schemes just before the October crash but by then it was too late. Incidentally, only one woman was arrested with much fanfare as the �queenpin� while dozens of other �kingpins� are known to be freely roaming around much richer than ever. Lalsawmkimi and her cohorts demanded that the authorities seize their properties and be sold off to pay the people whom they cheated.
One of her supporters, Zodinpuii said her uncle�s pension funds was sunk in this �fake bank� and she needed it back no matter what.