By Arun Srivastava


Why the Commissioner of Kolkata Police Rajeev Kumar suddenly acquired the importance in the political establishment of Delhi as well as Calcutta is really intriguing.  Rajeev is supposed to be an intelligent and no-nonsense person. But this is certainly not the reason that everybody should be after him. What has been the reason that Mamata Banerjee, who after coming to power in 2011 was reluctant to retain him, hit the Calcutta streets on Sunday to protect him from questioning by the CBI.

One thing that ought to be mentioned is that Rajeev Kumar is known for his impeccable investigating and electronic surveillance skills and was the blue- eyed boy of former West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

No doubt his elevation during Mamata’s rule has been really fascinating. In 2012 he was made the first Commissioner of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate. When in 2013 the Saradha chit fund scam was busted he became the head of the SIT. By May 2016, Kumar had earned her trust, and was made Kolkata Police Commissioner. After the BJP and Congress accused Kumar of tapping their phones, the Election Commission told the state government to replace him. He was removed during the assembly polls, but later reinstated.

While he was being identified as the most trusted police officer, the state BJP leader, former number two in TMC, Mukul Roy, who has been witness to his ascendance, started putting pressure on the central BJP leadership to remove him along with five more officers from West Bengal as with them in command the BJP will find it tough to win the Lok Sabha elections from the state. Last September one clip which went viral revealed that Roy had asked general secretary  Kailash Vijayvargiya to talk to BJP president Amit Shah and get CBI to keep a watch on “four IPS officers” and “scare” them.

 “Jo char IPS hain, unpe CBI ko thoda nazar dalna hoga. Isme agar ek baar dhyan denge, toh yeh IPS log dar jayenge (CBI should keep a watch on these four IPS officers. If we focus on this, these IPS officers will get scared),” Roy ostensibly told Vijayvargiya. Incidentally some IPS officers who were part of SIT formed to probe the Saradha chit fund case have been on the CBI’s radar and were earlier also called for questioning. Kumar, as the head of the team was also called for interrogation. But the CBI alleges he did not respond to its summons.

It goes to the credit of Kumar that his team arrested Sarada boss Sudipta Sen and his partner in crime Debjani Mukherjee from Jammu and Kashmir on April 18, 2013. It was during those years that his proximity to the political establishment was severely criticised by the opposition parties. Nevertheless a CBI probe into the Sarada scam was ordered by the Supreme Court in May 2014 on a petition by senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan. The state government had decided to hand over the case to the CBI on March 18, 2015. But before the CBI could lay its hands on the perpetrators, Kumar arrested the first accused on March 26.

What happened on February 3 is nothing but the manifestation of the panic reaction of BJP. Working on the feedback of Mukul Roy, the CBI was used to defuse Rajeev. The BJP was working on the presumption that he has huge amount of incriminating documents and evidences which lead to the residence of Mamata and secondly laying hands on Kumar will demoralise the entire police rank and file. They will lose the guts to check the BJP and help TMC.

Though the BJP leaders refuted that CBI had gone to Kumar’s residence to arrest him, some senior CBI officials conceded that deployment of such a large number of CBI sleuths was primarily to thwart any untoward incident once he is arrested. Kolkata was left in a state of unprecedented crisis on Sunday, 3 February, when a group of 40 CBI officials allegedly turned up outside the house of Kumar, in connection with the agency’s probe into the Saradha and Rose Valley ponzi scams, and were detained by the local cops.

For Mamata it was a do or die situation. She took advantage of the overzealous zeal of the CBI. No doubt they are free to arrest anyone. But in this extraordinary situation, they should have moved the court or informed the DGP of the state. But as they nursed an ulterior intention they did not follow the correct line. Mamata knew that allowing the CBI to interrogate Kumar in this fishy manner would demoralise the police force and allow the BJP to have an upper hand. Any political party aspiring to rule Bengal must have the police on its side. While BJP was working on this thesis, Mamata was desperate to protect her forte.

Following the row, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stepped in and declared a ‘Save the Constitution’ dharna, to protest against what she called an attack from the BJP and also defended Kumar, calling him the “best in the world”. On their part the BJP justified the CBI action on the plea that Kumar “has not been cooperating with CBI in handing over all the documents and a lot of evidence has been destroyed or caused to disappear.”

The hurry of the BJP and the Modi government to get Kumar at any cost could be gauged from the simple fact Home ministry shot off a letter to West Bengal, asking the state government to initiate disciplinary action against Kumar for “indiscipline and violation of service rules.” The Home Minister accused him of sitting on dharna with Mamata. The face-off between West Bengal and the Centre is set to snowball into a major political issue, bringing back into focus the Centre-state relations and rights, which have always been a debatable issue.

But on their part she and her comrade in arms AP chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu emphatically denied that Kumar had committed any impropriety and said being the Commissioner he was under legal and executive obligation to be by the side of his boss, the chief minister. It is worth mentioning that on February 2, just a day ahead of the crisis a News TV  ran a report quoting anonymous sources that said Kumar was about to be arrested by the CBI and was absconding. (IPA Service)


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