India

Subrata Roy: India anger at 'privileges' for arrested tycoon

The Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy being escorted to a court in the city of Lucknow on February 28, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Subrata Roy (left) was arrested on Friday

Police in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been criticised after they lodged arrested tycoon Subrata Roy in a fancy forest department guest house in Lucknow city.

The Kukrail picnic spot, popular with local people and schoolchildren, has been shut down for three days.

The Sahara group chief was arrested on Friday in connection with a fraud case.

India's Supreme Court ordered his arrest when he failed to appear before judges on Wednesday.

Two Sahara firms are accused of raising 240bn rupees ($3.9bn; £2.3bn) through illegal bonds.

Market regulators say Mr Roy failed to refund money to millions of investors despite a court order.

He was remanded to police custody until 4 March when it is expected the Supreme Court will hear the case.

'Special treatment?'

The Sahara chief was taken to the guest house on Friday night and reports say over the weekend he was visited by a large number of family members and well-wishers.

Groups of schoolchildren who went to the picnic spot were sent back by the police and morning walkers too were not allowed into the premises, Press Trust of India reported.

The agency added that traffic on the forest road leading to the guest house was restricted and that Mr Roy had been provided all necessary facilities and that he was served home-cooked food.

In a report, India Today said the guest house "is supposed to be one of the best in the city" and that "questions are being raised on why Subrata Roy is being given such special treatment".

The case against Mr Roy stretches back to August 2012, when the court ordered the two Sahara firms implicated to refund money to 22 million small investors within 90 days and with 15% interest.

In December 2012, the court gave the firms more time to repay.

In February last year, market regulators froze the firms' bank accounts saying they had failed to refund the money.

But Sahara disputes the amount it should pay back, saying its liability should be no more than the 51.2bn rupees it has already paid back.

Mr Roy is a household name in India.

His group, worth $11bn, has businesses ranging from finance, housing, manufacturing, aviation and the media.

It also has interests overseas - it owns New York's landmark Plaza Hotel and London's iconic Grosvenor House.

Sahara also sponsors the Indian hockey team and owns a stake in Formula One racing team, Force India.

With more than 1.1 million workers, the group is India's biggest private sector employer.

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