Doval spiked CBI plans to seize phones of RAW official

Special Director Rakesh Asthana. Image courtesy Twitter

CBI officials investigating their Special Director Rakesh Asthana wanted to seize the mobile phone of RAW Special Secretary Samant Goel and other "public servants" but National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spiked their plans, according to a petition in Supreme Court.

Doval also allegedly stopped a search conducted by investigators at the residence of DySP Devender Kumar, who was later arrested, by calling Director Alok Verma, who had earlier directed registering the case against Asthana.

These claims were made in the petition filed by CBI official M K Sinha, who was supervising the case against Asthana, while challenging his transfer out of Delhi. Doval was not available for comments.

The CBI had arrested a suspected middleman Manoj Prasad, son of a former RAW official Dineshwar Prasad, in connection with the case and Goel was accused of being in touch with his family as well as Asthana about the developments. Another petition by a CBI official had earlier given details of purported communication between Goel, Prasad's family and Asthana over telephone and WhatsApp.

According to the petition, Manoj's brother Somesh was in touch with Goel but had stopped talking over phone and shifted to WhatsApp suspecting that they were being tapped. Investigating Officer A K Bassi, who was also transferred, "insisted" that they need to get hold of the mobile phones, as the "evidence is likely to be stored on the device and that a search be conducted".

However, the petition claimed, CBI Director Alok Verma "did not give immediate permission" and reverted that the "NSA has not permitted the same".

The investigators continued with their demand for the next two-three days and it was put on record on October 22, hours before Verma was sent on leave and the investigators transferred.

Verma did not allow their request asking why the searches are to be done. When asked why, Sinha claimed, the Director responded that he was "not getting clearance from the NSA".

On October 20 when they conducting searches at the residence of the DySP, who is considered close to Asthana, the petition said, the investigators received a call from Verma "instructing (them) to stop the search". When Sinha asked Verma about the reason, the petition claimed, the Director replied that "this instruction has come from NSA Doval".

"The applicant (Sinha) herein was specifically told that there are some important messages in one of the mobile phones of Devender Kumar, though not pertaining to this case and that the mobile should not be seized," the petition said.

Quoting Manoj, Sinha also suggested that Doval was behind India withdrawing from a contest for a post in the Interpol. Verma's confidante and Joint Director A K Sharma was running for the post.

"He (Manoj) claimed that recently his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA on an important personal matter. He further claimed that India opted out of a contest from Interpol. Regarding genuineness of this claim of Manoj, no attempt was made to verify the claim regarding the NSA," the petition said.

However, a discreet enquiry showed that India had withdrawn from a contest in Interpol. "There were four other contending countries. The elections were to be held sometime in 3rd week of November this year. Sometime in September, AK Sharma was to go to abroad for a meeting but at the last minute, his trip was abruptly cancelled. It was informed that India is tacitly withdrawing from the contest," the petition claimed.

Soon after his arrest, Manoj had allegedly boasted about his connections with the "high and mighty" to "create fear" in investigators' mind. Manoj also claimed that his father has "close acquaintance" with Doval, the petition claimed while adding that it was one of the first things he claimed on being brought to the CBI headquarters. He "expressed complete surprise and anger as to how CBI could pick him up, despite his close links with the NSA", it said.

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Doval spiked CBI plans to seize phones of RAW official

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