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Why Rajeev Kumar features in the Saradha scam

It was as the commissioner of Bidhannagar police and the SIT chief probing the Saradha scam that involved deposits of Rs 2,460 crore (as later quantified by the Enforcement Directorate) that Rajeev Kumar has come under the CBI’s scanner.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2019 23:35 IST
Avijit Ghosal
Avijit Ghosal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajeev Kumar,Saradha,Enforcement Directorate
Bureaucrats recall that Rajeev Kumar was initially disliked by Mamata Banerjee, possibly on the suspicion that the cop, a favourite of her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the CPI(M), tapped telephones on behalf of the Left regime.(AP)

Rajeev Kumar, the man at the centre of the stand-off between the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government and the CBI, is a 1989 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer.

The former Bidhannagar police commissioner and the head of a special task force to probe the 2013 Saradha ponzi scam, Kumar has been the commissioner of Kolkata Police since May 2016. He is known for his proximity to Banerjee and for his deft use of technology to catch criminals.

Bureaucrats recall that the commissioner was initially disliked by Mamata, possibly on the suspicion that Kumar, a favourite of her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), tapped telephones on behalf of the Left regime. But they say Banerjee gradually came to admire his efficiency.

As soon as the Saradha scam came to light in April 2013, Mamata set up a special investigation team under Rajeev Kumar and also a four-member judicial inquiry commission.

It was as the commissioner of Bidhannagar police and the SIT chief probing the Saradha scam that involved deposits of Rs 2,460 crore (as later quantified by the Enforcement Directorate) that Kumar has come under the CBI’s scanner.

Follow live updates here: Tejashwi Yadav, Kanimozhi join West Bengal CM at protest against CBI and Centre

CBI, which was ordered by the Supreme Court to take over the Saradha probe in May 2014, alleged that the SIT led by Kumar had in 2013 seized various items from Saradha’s Midland Park office, including a red diary and a pen drive containing details, including pay-offs to influential people. Incidentally, the Midland Park office falls under the jurisdiction of the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate.

Former Saradha executive director Debjani Mukherjee too, allegedly told the CBI that these documents were seized but the CBI said the same were never made available to them.

Oppositions leaders have alleged that Mamata Banerjee is defending Kumar since he is in possession of crucial documents that are likely to incriminate the CM in the Ponzi scam.

“When the SIT was formed (in 2013), all scam-related documents that point to the involvement of Mamata Banerjee...went in possession of Rajeev Kumar. They are still in Kumar’s custody,” alleged BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.

“If he has nothing to hide, why is Rajeev Kumar avoiding the CBI that is investigating under orders from the Supreme Court ? It is evident that he is.. protecting the ruling party,” said CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb.

Meanwhile, Mamata continued to defend Kumar. On Sunday evening, while lashing out at the Centre outside Kumar’s residence, she said, “Why would we hand over whatever we found in the investigation?”

First Published: Feb 04, 2019 23:35 IST