Not the first time that CBI crossed the ‘limit’

Not the first time that CBI crossed the ‘limit’

Central Bureau of Investigation. (PTI)

On August 21, it was not for the first time that the CBI went overboard in making an arrest of a VVIP politician. The premier investigative agency had done so in July 1997 too when its then Joint Director UN Biswas sought Army’s help to arrest the then Chief Minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam.

In those days, when an all-powerful Lalu was at the peak of his political career, no one could dare question him, forget his arrest. The CBI, however, sent its top cop Biswas, who was supervising the investigation of multi-crore fodder scam, to arrest the Bihar CM.

One month before he was to unfurl the tricolour on the occasion of 50th Independence Day, Lalu was informed that Biswas, a West Bengal-cadre IPS officer of 1968 batch, had arrived to arrest him.

IK Gujral was then the Prime Minister heading United Front Government. Incidentally, Gujral was a then a Rajya Sabha member from Bihar.

The CBI sought Governor AR Kidwai’s sanction to prosecute Lalu. But since Lalu had a good rapport with Kidwai, coupled with the Gujral factor, the Governor put the CBI request on the back-burner.

Biswas then headed to Raj Bhavan, met Kidwai and got the sanction to prosecute the CM. However, Lalu’s men threatened that there would be blood-bath if he was arrested.

Biswas then made a call to Bihar Chief Secretary. He was not available. The top CBI cop then dialled Bihar DGP who said he needed some time to think it over. It was then that Biswas asked CBI SP to seek the help of Army to arrest Lalu.

The CBI SP’s letter to the Danapur Army cantonment said: “As per the oral directions issued by the Patna High Court, this is to request you for favour of providing immediately armed contingent comprising at least one company to assist the CBI to arrest Lalu Prasad”

The Army officer did not respond to the request saying the Army would come to the aid of civil administration only at the request of notified civil authorities.

The then Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta (of CPI), however, reprimanded the CBI for procedure lapses. “…We do not want any Tom, Dick or Harry to seek Army’s help to assist the civil administration” the Home Minister said in the Rajya Sabha in 1997.

However, Lalu was eventually arrested soon after he installed his wife Rabri Devi as the Chief Minister of Bihar.

Incidentally, the IPS officer, Biswas, after retirement, joined Trinamool Congress. He contested West Bengal Assembly election in 2011 from Bagada constituency and defeated Forward Bloc’s Mrinal Kranti by nearly 21,000 votes. Biswas was inducted as a minister by Mamata Banerjee during her first stint as CM.