Interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao
Interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao said the investigating agency has evidence against Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with chit fund scam cases. Rao said Kumar has been instrumental in causing the destruction of evidence and obstructing justice. "We are investigating these chit fund cases as per the directions of the Supreme Court. A SIT has been constituted by the West Bengal government prior to top court's direction under the chairmanship of Kumar. They have taken charge of all the evidence, seized all the documents, they have not been cooperating with us in handing over all the documents and a lot of evidence has been destroyed or caused to disappear," Rao told news agency ANI.
Rao's reaction came after in an unprecedented development, a number of CBI officers, who had gone to question Kumar in connection with chit fund scam cases, were bundled into police jeeps, whisked to a police station and briefly detained on Sunday, officials said. Amidst escalating tension between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Centre, Loudon Street in central Kolkata witnessed a virtual showdown between the state police and the CBI. Even though there were initially conflicting reports about some CBI officers being arrested, the city police later clarified that no CBI officer was arrested by them.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Pravin Tripathi said the CBI officers have been let go from the police station after questioning. "They just said they had come for a secret operation. We don't know what kind of operation it is," Tripathi said.
Reacting to the fast-paced developments, CBI joint director Pankaj Srivastava said, "We had gone there to investigate him (Kumar). And if he hadn't cooperated with us we would have rounded him up." Asked about police officials cordoning off the CBI offices and his residence, he said, "I have also been detained and there are police officers standing outside my house."
As politics played out on the street, Banerjee rushed to the residence of Kumar. She had earlier extended her support to Kumar and alleged that the BJP was "misusing power to take control of the police and all other institutions".
Party spokesperson Derek O' Brien tweeted, "BJP planning a constitutional coup ? 40 CBI officials surround Kolkata Police Commissioner's home. Destruction of institutions goes on unabated. Our demand in #Parliament on Mon. Modi has to go. We are reaching out and sharing this with all Oppn parties who want to #SaveDemocracy."
West Bengal DGP Virendra and ADG(Law and order) Anuj Sharma too reached Kumar's residence. In a tit-for-tat move, a team of Kolkata Police officials reached the CGO Complex- the state headquarters of CBI.
The fast-paced development started unfolding as soon as a team of 40-odd agency officers arrived at Kumar's residence this evening, but they were stopped by sentries and officials. A day earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claimed that Kumar had been "absconding" and "being looked for" in connection with Saradha and Rose Valley ponzi scam cases.
As the CBI team landed at the city police chief's residence, a team of Kolkata Police officers rushed to the spot to speak to the CBI officials and tried to enquire whether they had required documents to question Kumar. Later on, a small team of CBI officials was taken to Shakespeare Sarani police station for further discussions. Thereafter, more men arrived at the spot and a commotion ensued. Some CBI officers were then forcibly bundled into police jeeps and taken to a police station.
Later, Banerjee sat on a 'dharna' in front of Metro Cinema to protest the CBI action against Kumar. Kolkata Police Chief Kumar is also present at the spot.
Kumar, a 1989-batch IPS officer of West Bengal cadre, did not even attend a meeting with Election Commission officials who had gone to Kolkata to review election preparedness, sources said.
A statement was issued Sunday from Kolkata Police, dismissing reports of him being missing from work.
"Please take note that not only is the CP Kolkata available in the city, but has also been attending office on a regular basis, with the exception of January 31, 2019, when he was on leave for a day. All concerned may please take note that if any news is spread without proper verification, Kolkata Police will initiate strict legal action against defamation of both the CP Kolkata and Kolkata Police," the police said.