Rajeev Kumar: the man in the eye of the storm

Rajeev Kumar, Kolkata's police commissioner, has become the flashpoint of an all-out legal battle between the West Bengal Government and the Centre.

The Kolkata top cop has also become the bone of contention between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP.

So who is Rajeev Kumar, for whom the TMC supremo has decided to take the BJP-led government at the Centre and CBI head on?

Kumar is a 1989 batch IPS officer of the West Bengal cadre, who took charge as Kolkata Police Commissioner in January 2016.

One of the most decorated officers in Kolkata Police, Kumar is a computer science graduate from IIT Roorkee.

Among his colleagues, he is known for his expertise in electronic surveillance. He has earlier held several key posts such Deputy Commissioner of the Kolkata Police STF and DIG of the Bengal CID.

The current controversy and Kumar’s face-off with CBI started in April 2013 when he was chosen to head the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the West Bengal government to probe the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.

Kumar, known to be close to the chief minister, came under the CBI's radar after the case was handed over to the central agency by the Supreme Court in May 2014.

CBI officials alleged that Kumar has refused to hand over several key documents related to the Saradha and other chit fund scams.

It further alleged that Kumar handed over evidence to the main accused in the Saradha scam and has destroyed several pieces of evidence.

"While the said investigation was being done by the SIT, crucial original, primary and fundamental evidence such as laptops, mobile phones etc were handed over to the main accused in the Sharadha Scam case by the I.O of West Bengal Police working under direct supervision of Rajeev Kumar," the CBI said in its affidavit to the Supreme Court.

It further stated that the SIT, headed by Kumar, "clearly show connivance" to a "larger conspiracy" as the local authorities tried to "destroy the evidence" before the case was transferred to the CBI.

However, last Sunday, when the CBI tried to question Kumar in relation to the Saradha scam, Kolkata Police claimed that they could not produce any warrant nor any other valid document.

They further alleged that the CBI officials did not even bother to give prior intimation that they seek to question Kumar.

The Supreme Court's instruction to CBI restraining them from arresting Kumar, for now, may have provided relief to the West Bengal government.

But the tussle seems to be far from over as the West Bengal Chief Minister has turned it into a state versus Centre clash.

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Rajeev Kumar: the man in the eye of the storm

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