New Delhi: There’s an interesting joke in Kolkata revolving around the former city police commissioner, Rajeev Kumar, currently on the run from the Central Bureau of Investigation. And the joke has a link to the Durga Puja festivities, the biggest for Bengalis across the world. Every time the CBI officers would reach a spot to check on Kumar, cops of Kolkata Police would joke: “Sir, don’t worry, Ma ashchhen (Durga, the Mother Goddess is coming), Rajeev-o ashbey (Rajeev will also come).”
Kumar is still incommunicado, though he has signed some papers and is hoping against hope that he will get some relief from the courts. But the CBI is not getting anywhere, even Kumar’s lawyers are not saying from where they are procuring documents signed by Kumar.
That means, in short, Kumar is very much in Kolkata.
But the CBI officers are getting tired, actually exasperated because the former police commissioner is just not leaving any trace of his hop-skip-jump movements, there are rumours in the city that he is stationed at one place and not on the run. And that place is heavily guarded, both by cops and members of the Trinamool Congress.
It’s been more than a week and the search has not yielded any result. Worse, as many as 10 officers of the crack team of the country’s premier investigating agency have been pulled back to the national capital, an indication CBI is almost giving up hope. The rest could also be recalled to Delhi, top sources within the agency told this reporter.
Is Kumar, or RK—as he is popular among his colleagues—being guarded by a very special unit of the Kolkata Police or Bengal Police, even the Bengal CID? Probably yes, because Kumar is the key to a host of issues emerging out of the chit fund cases involving two companies, Rose Valley and Sharada Group.
The CBI says Kumar is using jungle drums (read, personal messaging) to avoid arrest. “Only a handful of the city is in touch with him. Kumar is not using any handset and that’s one big reason why he has managed to hoodwink the CBI,” the source further said.
What is interesting is that Kumar’s ancestral home in Chandausi town in Uttar Pradesh was also visited by CBI officers but they could find no one, not even Kumar’s mother Munni Devi. A few caretakers who were questioned told CBI that Munni Devi left home—Anand Bhavan—sometime ago and was now virtually untraceable. CBI officers claim Kumar, who had always been in close touch with his mother, could have advised her to stay away from the CBI to avoid questioning and possible harassment.
But the CBI officers are determined to get their hands on Kumar. Those stationed in Kolkata have drawn up a list of those police officers attending court proceedings involving Kumar. The CBI officers feel those police officers are passing information to people in touch with Kumar. Some of these police officers have already been questioned by the CBI.
Kumar, who is wanted by the Central agency for questioning in the Rs 35,000 crore Saradha chit fund scam, Rose valley scam as well as a few other similar scams that defrauded millions of people, mostly poor, in Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Odisha, could emerge post Durga Puja, which ends on 8 October. The CBI has instructed its Kolkata office to station officers in all top Durga Puja pandals in the city, and on the outskirts. The CBI officers, who raided Kumar’s residence a number of times, questioned his wife, who is a senior Indian Revenue Service officer and commissioner of income tax, questioned a few people suspected of sheltering him. The CBI also approached Bengal DG Police and State Home Secretary for information on Kumar’s whereabouts, but was rebuffed.
What is surprising is that it is actually mandatory for officers going on leave to inform their seniors and their offices about their whereabouts and provide an address and number where they can be contacted. But it has not happened in the case of Kumar. His seniors have told CBI they had no information about him. Kumar’s leave expired on Wednesday (25 September) and he was issued another summon by the CBI to appear before it on Thursday. But this summon, too, has been ignored.
In Kolkata, the group of boisterous men guarding Kumar are happy thinking they have had the last laugh. But they are missing the tree for the woods. Kumar has been asked by the courts to join the investigation, and meet up with the officers. Flouting it means violating a court order. That will bring more trouble.
Kumar—safe in his hideout—knows an I-Spy game cannot run for long. And when he will be caught, it will be total shame. He was not only Kolkata’s top cop, he was also considered among the two top IT experts in police in India.
His presence in the CBI custody will trigger more than breaking headlines, it will trigger total shame.