Rakesh Asthana, the CBI officer who once grilled Lalu

Rakesh Asthana, the CBI officer who once grilled Lalu

CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who is in the eye of a storm over bribery allegations, maybe a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, but was born in undivided Bihar.

Rakesh’s father H R Asthana was one of the best Physics teachers at Netarhat School, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in undivided Bihar, in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Born in 1961 in Ranchi, the now capital of Jharkhand but then an important city of Bihar, Asthana did his schooling from Netarhat and then completed his intermediate from St Xavier’s College, Ranchi, in 1978.

After completing higher education from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Asthana taught history at St Xavier’s College in Ranchi for a short span. Eventually, he cleared his UPSC examination in 1984 in his first attempt. The IPS officer was then allocated the Gujarat cadre.

Asthana shot into limelight in 1994 when he investigated the Purulia Arms Drop case. But he became a household name after interrogating Lalu Prasad in the much-publicised fodder scam in 1996.

“Such was the aura of Lalu Prasad during the mid-90s that no police officer could dare to quiz the then chief minister of Bihar. But Rakesh Asthana interrogated Lalu for six consecutive hours. It was on the basis of this probe that a charge-sheet was filed in the fodder scam, which eventually led to Lalu’s arrest in 1997,” a senior journalist, now retired, told DH.

Rakesh was then barely 35 years old and was posted in Bihar as CBI SP. Twenty years later, the same IPS officer, after becoming Additional Director in the CBI, was monitoring the IRCTC scam in 2017.

Asthana led the raid against Lalu and his family in July 2017 in connection with irregularities in handing over two hotels - one each in Ranchi and Puri when Lalu was Railway Minister in UPA-I. The disputed land in question is presently owned by LaRa projects - named after Lalu and Rabri and is therefore called LaRa scam.

Earlier, he had investigated the Godhra incident and Ahmedabad blast case.

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