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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Ex-Kolkata top cop Rajeev Kumar misses CBI summons, says he’s on leave

A CID official visited the CBI office in Salt Lake and submitted the letter, in which Kumar said he is on a three-day off and, therefore, unable to attend the summon.

india Updated: May 27, 2019 23:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Kolkata
Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar skipped a meeting with the CBI officials on Monday despite being summoned by the agency.
Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar skipped a meeting with the CBI officials on Monday despite being summoned by the agency. (Arijit Sen/HT Photo)
         

Former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar facing arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Saradha chit fund case, failed to appear before the agency on Monday, following which the federal investigation agency is considering legal action.

CBI officials said they wouldn’t rule out approaching a court for a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Kumar if he continues to evade CBI.

The West Bengal Indian Police Service officer, who is believed to be close to state chief minister Mamata Banerjee, sent a letter to the agency’s Salt Lake office in Kolkata stating he could not keep his appointment with CBI because he is “on leave” for the next seven days.

The 1989-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer is being investigated for tampering with the evidence in the alleged chit fund fraud case in which investigators believe several state politicians were involved.

Kumar was in charge of the investigation in the case when he was the head of SIT (special investigation team) formed by the state government.

Kumar has played a key role in the ongoing political slugfest between the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Partys, which won 18 seats in the state in the recent Lok Sabha elections, emerging the second strongest political force in the state, and a possible contender for the top honours in the 2021 state elections.

In January last week, when CBI officials tried to question Kumar, the state police prevented them from doing so.

Also Read | Why Rajeev Kumar features in the Saradha scam

On May 15, he was transferred from his post as additional director general — CID West Bengal. This was done at the insistence of the Election Commission. He was transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs, after the Election Commission found out that he had played a role in the violence surrounding a rally by BJP president Amit Shah on May 14.

After a legal battle in the Supreme Court, Kumar was ordered, on May 17, to present himself for questioning before the CBI.

On May 24, the Supreme Court refused to extend the protection from arrest given till that day.

The central anti-corruption agency has claimed it has clinching evidence against the officer and that his custodial interrogation is required.

A CBI officer said on condition of anonymity that the agency is discussing what to do with Kumar’s letter in which he has sought seven days’ time to appear before the agency.

The letter was delivered by deputy SP, Madhusudan Ghosh and Inspector, CID of West Bengal , Abhijit Mukhopadhyay at the Salt Lake office of CBI on behalf of Kumar.

The CBI officer cited above added that Kumar might not be given more time.

“The probe has already been delayed for over four months due to Kumar’s non-cooperation and confrontational attitude. These are his delaying tactics due to which the main culprits who enjoyed the chit fund money are roaming scot-free in West Bengal,” added this officer.

Also Read | The Kolkata police commissioner at the centre of Mamata Banerjee, Centre tussle

A second CBI officer said that at least three teams are keeping a close watch at three locations – Kumar’s residential quarters at Park Street, the West Bengal CID office at Bhabani Bhaban and the district court in Barasat in South 24 Parganas district.

“A team of CBI officers and a lawyer of the investigative agency are present in the (Barasat) court premises,” said Mihir Das, member of West Bengal Bar Council.

On Friday, Rajeev Kumar sent his lawyer to file a petition seeking anticipatory bail from Barasat court. However, he could not file it because of the statewide lawyers’ strike. The Barasat court didn’t function again on Monday due to death of a lawyer.

On Sunday night, CBI officials handed over two notices, one at Kumar’s residence at Park Street and the other one at the CID headquarters at Bhabani Bhavan in South Kolkata asking him to appear at the agency’s office.

First Published: May 27, 2019 14:49 IST

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