Kolkata drama: low politics

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee with Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar during the Joint Investiture Ceremony of West Bengal Police and Kolkata Police, in Kolkata, on February 4, 2019. PTI

The Saradha chit fund scam in West Bengal in which lakhs of unsuspecting investors were swindled of over Rs 10,000 crore calls for a thorough investigation, but the Sunday drama that played out in Kolkata is a clear indication that the Modi government is more interested in reaping political dividends out of the scandal rather than bringing the culprits to book or rendering justice to the affected. The Mamata Banerjee administration had set up a special investigation team (SIT) in 2013 headed by senior IPS officer Rajeev Kumar, now Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, before the case was transferred to the CBI by the Supreme Court to ensure an impartial inquiry considering the alleged involvement of several top functionaries of the ruling Trinamool Congress and other bigwigs. The CBI has been wanting to quiz Kumar for some time now as it suspects him of suppressing and manipulating crucial documents and other evidence collected when he was the SIT chief and which the CBI says was not handed over to it.

The investigating agency is well within its rights to question a suspect, but the filmy manner in which it descended on the officer’s house, apparently without the required legal documents in hand, raises many questions about the real intent. If Rajeev Kumar was evading the CBI since 2014, why’s action being initiated only now? What was the tearing hurry to ‘raid’ his residence on a Sunday, which also happened be the last day in office of the CBI’s controversial interim director, Nageshwar Rao, who is said to be close to the Modi government’s top leaders? Would it not have been prudent for the CBI to wait for a day so that the new full-time director could have taken a considered view? Was the outgoing director demonstrating his “blood loyalty” to his political masters to ensure good postings now and in the future, as opposition leaders have alleged?  

Non-cooperation in investigation and destruction of evidence, that too by a senior police officer, are serious charges viewed dimly by the courts. The best course of action for the CBI would have been to obtain a warrant against Rajeev Kumar and subject him to interrogation. The CBI has only strengthened the opposition’s charge that investigative agencies are being misused by the Centre to browbeat rivals. The fact that several cases that have been dormant for the past five years after Modi came to power are suddenly being injected with life on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections gives credence to their argument. While every case should undoubtedly be vigorously pursued to the logical end, using them only to settle political scores will bring no credit to the Modi government.

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Kolkata drama: low politics


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