Punjab, Chandigarh Congress leaders protest removal of CBI chief Alok Verma, deputy Asthana
Leaders of Punjab and Chandigarh Congress held a protest outside the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in Sector 30 in Chandigarh against the NDA government’s move to remove CBI director Alok Kumar Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana.
Police barricaded the roads leading to the CBI office and after the protestors tried to cross the barricades, water canons were used to disperse them.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Chandigarh Congress in-charge Asha Kumari, former union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Punjab Congress MLA Pargat Singh and Chandigarh Congress president Pradeep Chhabra were present during the protest.
The Congress leaders demanded an apology from the Prime Minister and alleged that the “illegal, unconstitutional and illegitimate” removal of the CBI director had shamed India and its premier investigative agency.
Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were divested of all duties late in the night following a feud between the two.
Joint director M Nageswar Rao, a 1986-batch Orissa-cadre officer, who was asked to take over as acting chief immediately, in his first order, removed the entire team probing the bribery case against Asthana, including Ajay Bassi, the investigation officer (IO) and deputy inspector general Manish Sinha.
The removal of the director triggered a political row, with opposition leaders criticising the move and Congress wondering if Verma was “sacked” for his keenness to probe the “layers of corruption” in the Rafale scam and sought an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(with agency inputs)