Senior police officer Radha Vinod Raju — who was previously associated with Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and had investigated Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad founder — will take over as the first head of the National Investigation Agency on Monday.
The government on Thursday appointed Raju — a Jammu and Kashmir cadre police officer — to head the agency that was hurriedly set up by Parliament last month with powers to investigate terrorist-related offences.
“It is a matter of honour for me and I will do my best,” the soft-spoken police officer, who calls transparency his greatest strength, told HT.
Son of a postmaster in Fort Kochin Raju joined the police service 33 years ago. In 1975, he was allotted to the J&K cadre.
Three decades later, the 59-year-old police officer was heading the vigilance department in J&K when he received orders to move back to Delhi on Thursday. He had taken over the task of vigilance commissioner in J&K in September last year when the state government requested the Centre to relieve him from his assignment at the Central Bureau of Investigation where he was an Additional Director. The new assignment is a homecoming of sorts for Raju who has had four stints with the CBI.
“He (Raju) has been requested to join immediately and quickly begin the recruitments,” Home Minister P Chidambaram, who handpicked Raju for the post, said.
Unlike the CBI, the only other national investigative agency, the NIA will have concurrent jurisdiction empowering Raju to probe terror attacks in any part of the country, covering offences, including challenge to the country’s sovereignty and integrity, bomb blasts and hijacking of aircraft and ships.
Raju — who intends to assume charge on Monday — will have the freedom to hand pick his core group of investigation officers.
But the audacious Mumbai terror attack — that prompted Parliament to quickly set up the agency — will not be Raju’s first case at NIA. Chidambaram said the Mumbai investigation was “on track” and had already made “considerable progress”.