CBI brings Kolkata top cop, Saradha kingpin face-to-face
CBI Quizzes Rajeev For 9 Hrs, May Summon Him Today Too
Shillong: Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar was questioned for nearly nine hours on Sunday, two and a half hours of which he was made to sit with former Trinamool MP and one of the main accused in the Saradha scandal, Kunal Ghosh, who is also one of his most outspoken critics.
Ghosh has time and again blamed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for glossing over information and documents he had provided which, he claimed, “implicated” several political bigwigs in Bengal. He was arrested by Bidhannagar police (with Kumar as its police commissioner) in November 2013, and was in custody for more than two years. He had then alleged that he was being singled out.
The joint questioning, however, is far from over. CBI sources indicated they have asked both Ghosh and Kumar to appear before it again on Monday. This, sources said, struck a nerve with the police commissioner, who had faced over 16 hours of questioning over the weekend. Sources insisted that Kumar had at one point insisted on completing the questioning process even if it meant facing interrogators overnight. His plea, however, was turned down. Long after the questioning was complete, Kumar remained in the CBI offices to allow him to “correct” his statements before signing them, sources said. He left the CBI offices at 10.46pm.
In a sudden development, CBI’s investigating officer in the Rose Valley case, Shojom Sherpa, was flown in to Shillong late in the afternoon to join the interrogators. A senior CBI officer indicated that more CBI officers would join the probe from Monday. “It is difficult to commit on any time-frame at this juncture,” said a senior CBI officer, commenting on how many more days the questioning might take. “More officers are being dispatched to Shillong.” Kumar faced seven hours of questioning on Saturday, followed by nine hours on Sunday. The Bengal government, sources said, is likely to take legal opinion on this issue. Ghosh’s lawyer Ayan Chakraborty, however, said: “He has come here to cooperate with the CBI, and that is the prime condition of his bail.”
On Sunday, Kumar stepped into the CBI offices at 10.20am, and Ghosh 30 minutes earlier. Both were questioned separately at the beginning. The CP, who went out for around two hours for a lunch break, was finally made to sit face to face with Ghosh at 6.40pm. Sherpa, who came from Kolkata on Sunday, had joined the investigating team by that time. On questions on Rose Valley, Kumar reportedly informed the probe that a Calcutta high court special bench was hearing all Ponzi cases, including Rose Valley’s.
Sources close to the development indicated that during interrogation, CBI officers wanted to know whether Bidhannagar police or the SIT had found anything unusual about the alleged Ponzi firms and steps taken to curb those. Kumar reportedly responded that market watchdogs like SEBI and RBI need to keep such tabs, not the police.
After stepping out of the CBI office, neither Kumar nor his legal counsel, Biswajit Deb, spoke to the media.
Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar after he arrived in Shillong last Friday