Shrikant Mohta and SVF office at Acropolis Mall in file photographs.
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Kolkata: CBI seems to be closing in on the big fishes as regards the multi-crore and multiple chit-fund scams that started bursting in eastern India, especially Bengal and Odisha.

In the latest development, CBI has arrested the owner of Bengal’s topmost film production firm Shree Venkatesh Films (SVF), Shrikant Mohta, who is close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

This is the second non-political personality who has been arrested in connection with the chit-fund scams in just about a month.

On 20 December, the Central agency had arrested noted Bengali journalist and editor Suman Chattopadhyay.

Mohta, in his 50’s, has been specifically arrested for the Rose Valley Scam having imprint over Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and, the northeast. He was questioned in the case by CBI in August last year.

Around noon today, a CBI team reached SVF office located in the Acropolis Mall at Kasba in south Kolkata. Private security guards and SVF staff tried to prevent the team from entering the office, resulting in a commotion.

On being alerted by SVF, a team from Kasba police station reached the spot but once the CBI officers disclosed their identity, police had to step back.

CBI team then questioned Mohta in his upscale office for nearly two hours. He was then taken to CBI’s regional office in CGO Complex at Salt Lake.

After another round of questioning, Mohta was arrested by the CBI later in the afternoon. His partner in SVF and three lawyers were present in the CGO Complex at that time.

Mohta has been flown to Bhubaneswar in Odisha by an evening flight. He will be produced in a court there tomorrow. CBI sources said that the agency will plea for his custody as they need to question the high profile film producer.

Mohta’s SVF is accused of selling telecast rights for 70 films to Rose Valley’s TV channel in 2010 for Rs 25-crore.

But being in the close circle of some prominent political figures in Bengal, he later allegedly violated the contract.

Mohta had also bought five paintings by Mamata Banerjee during an exhibition in Kolkata soon after she came to power. CBI has already taken the paintings in their possession.

Reacting to Mohta’s arrest, Trinamool secretary general, Partha Chatterjee alleged that Narendra Modi government is misusing CBI for political purpose.

“Each and every sector is under attack. Be it the film industry, clubs, puja organisers they are targeting everyone. The misuse of power is reducing autonomous institutions into party stooges,” Chatterjee said.

CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and, Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra have welcomed the development.

“He (Mohta) should have been arrested much earlier. He is deeply involved in the scam. He is the one who acted at the behest of Mamata Banerjee is herding film artists into Trinamool camps and turning them election candidates,” said Mishra.

Mitra said that the CBI has done the right thing by arresting Mohta. “Should the CBI worship thieves? She (Mamata) is surrounded by thieves and the likes of them.”

The two back to back arrests by CBI in just a month have raised the speculation that the agency might serve a decisive outcome in the chit-fund scams around the coming Lok Sabha elections.