The role of investigating officer (IO) Rakesh Kumar, who was transferred to the police lines on Tuesday, has come under the scanner in the Rs 2-crore Panjab University pension cell scam.
The IO allegedly provided “VIP treatment” to the main accused, Pooja Bagga, when she was in police remand for 13 days. Questions are being raised over his failure to nab Bagga’s family members, who were beneficiaries of the scam, despite conducting various raids in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
Sources in the police department said Rakesh Kumar took Bagga along during the raids, claiming that she would be able to identify the co-accused, but he failed to make any arrests. They also claimed that instead of sending Bagga back to the lock-up in Sector 17 in the evening during her police remand, the IO allowed her to remain in his office at the economic offences wing (EOW) till late at night to give her “VIP food”.
Records of the police department revealed that Kumar had taken Bagga to Solan, Kandaghat and Shimla on October 3 during raids and returned two days later to produce her in court. A senior police official, on the condition of anonymity, said Bagga’s stay in Shimla raised questions on the role of the IO. He said Shimla was just a three-hour drive from the city; so Kumar could have brought her back in the evening, as he was supposed to do. The official said the department was verifying whether the IO kept Bagga in a lock-up of any nearby police station in Shimla or in a hotel.
An entry in police records also reveals that while in Himachal Pradesh, Kumar moved out for raids at about 4pm instead of early in the morning, as is the practice.
EOW official defends Kumar
Denying any VIP treatment given to the accused, an EOW official, close to Kumar, said he had conducted raids as per law and a team of cops, including women personnel, accompanied him.
Commenting on the raids conducting on October 3, the EOW official said Bagga’s medical examination was conducted around 5:30pm at a Shimla hospital before the team moved from there. He said the raiding party was continuously driving, so the cops slept for some time in their vehicle, and did not stay in any hotel. He said the same method was adopted during raids conducted in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pardesh.
Giving an explanation about Kumar’s failure to send Bagga to the lock-up in the evening, the official said the investigators had to go through several documents related to the case, for which Bagga’s assistance was needed till late at night.
Inspector Sukhwinder Singh takes charge
Investigation of the case has been handed over to inspector Sukhwinder Singh of the economic offences wing. An officer in the wing, seeking anonymity, said the department is looking into records of raids conducted by Rakesh Kumar and his team to find where Pooja Bagga was made to stay at night during this period.