Kolkata: Senior IPS officer and ex-Kolkata top cop Rajeev Kumar on Saturday did not appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Saradha scam probe, but sent a communication seeking more time. “He has sent a communication seeking more time,” an authorised source told.
A police source claimed Kumar, presently posted as Additional Director General of the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), was at his Park Street residence here consulting lawyers and sent an e-mail to the CBI requesting a month’s time as he was on leave. Meanwhile, with Kumar not turning up, the investigative agency officials held legal consultations to decide their next course of action.
Soon after the Calcutta High Court on Friday withdrew interim protection from arrest given to the former Kolkata Police Commissioner in the Saradha chit fund scam case, CBI officials reached his official residence here and served him summons to appear before the agency at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The CBI officers, led by joint director Pankaj Srivastava, waited through the day for Kumar at the agency’s CGO complex office with a set of questions to grill him as part of the probe, but Kumar did not turn up. “He did not appear today… Let’s see,” a CBI spokesman told when asked what action the agency was contemplating against Kumar. Srivastava was also tightlipped about next course of action. “We are not authorised to talk, please let us work. Whatever paper we receive, please let us see it”, Srivastava said in reply to queries after calling on CBI counsel Y. J. Dastoor. Asked what action the CBI was contemplating, he said: “Cannot say now”. “We held discussions with our lawyer before taking any action, whatever action we take we don’t disclose it,’ he said.
Meanwhile, West Bengal BJP unit president Dilip Ghosh drew parallel between Kumar and Congress leader P. Chidamabaram, who has been arrested in the INX media case after remaining unreachable for a day. “Before his arrest, even P. Chidamabaram had been incommunicado. Those who have betrayed the nation, broken people’s trust, are now mortally afraid of CBI. But if the CBI wishes to arrest somebody, then he cannot remain underground for long. The fate of Chidambaram, a heavyweight politician, is a proof of that,” said Ghosh.
However, he hoped that Kumar, being a senior IPS officer, would cooperate with the CBI. “I think Kumar is a senior IPS officer, he is well versed with the law, and so he should cooperate with the CBI so that the large number of people, who have suffered because of the scam, get justice”.
In a jolt to the IPS officer, the High Court on Friday withdrew his interim protection giving the CBI an immediate chance to ask him to appear before the agency in connection with the ponzi scam probe that saw thousands of people lose their hard earned money with some pushed to the extreme point to end their lives.
The court had given the interim protection on May 30 and then extended it multiple times. The investigating agency had in May sent a notice to Kumar asking him to appear before it and later issued a lookout notice alerting all airports and immigration authorities against him leaving the country. Kumar had moved the court on May 22 seeking quashing of the CBI notice asking him to appear before the agency. He appeared before the CBI on June 7 and was grilled for several hours.
Kumar, who headed the special investigation team (SIT) in 2013 as the Commissioner of Bidhannagar police that probed the Saradha scam, is accused of tampering with evidence in this case. The Supreme Court in May, 2014, handed over the case to the CBI. The CBI is seeking Kumar’s custodial interrogation arguing certain documents seized by the SIT during the initial investigation into the scam was not handed over to it. An unprecedented chain of events had unfolded on February 3 when a CBI team reached Kumar’s residence to question him. The team was detained and taken to a police station before being released.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also visited the officer’s residence and later held a 45-hour sit-in at the city hub on the issue. But in February itself, as per the Supreme Court order, Kumar was interrogated by the CBI in Shillong.