Former DGP of Himachal Pradesh and CBI Director Ashwini Kumar died by suicide on Wednesday. Kumar, who rose to become the governor of Nagaland after retiring from the CBI, was found hanging in his Shimla home on Wednesday evening.
Shimla Superintendent of Police Mohit Chawla confirmed to News18 that Kumar's body was found hanging by a rope at Brockhorst in Shimla.
Police officials investigating the incident said a suicide note has been found, which seems to indicate that health issues forced the former top cop to take the extreme step. Local news agencies reported that the suicide note written in English said the deceased "had become overwhelmed by this life and had set out on his next journey".
The police said that the authenticity of the note is being verified.
State minister Sukhram Chaudhary visited Kumar's house and told the media that no foul play is suspected. "His family was at home. He was very regular with his evening walks and 'pooja' and I am told he went to the 'pooja' room where this incident happened," he said.
The news came as a shock for Kumar's former colleagues. AP Singh, who took over from Kumar as CBI director in 2010, told News18 that it was shocking news since he remembered Kumar as a "happy and fit" officer.
"I am absolutely shocked. He was a gentleman, never lost his temper, never even raised his voice. I worked with him closely as special director of CBI when he was the director, I always found him very pleasant and soft-spoken," said Singh.
Another former colleague, Praveen Sinha, currently Additional Director in the CBI, said, "He was a thorough gentleman, very cultured. This is a shock."
Another former colleague, currently in the CBI, also echoed the same sentiments. The officer who did not wish to be named said Kumar was an extremely professional police officer who went out of the way to back young officers if he was convinced about their talent. "He was the additional director and wanted me to join the CBI. I was on deputation to the Centre but my cooling-off period was still not over. He was convinced that I would make a difference to the cases the CBI was probing and ensured I was brought on board at the CBI at the earliest possible," said the officer.
A 1973-batch IPS officer, Kumar was appointed CBI Director in 2008, but the move had its share of controversy. Believed to be an officer close to the Gandhi family, Kumar pipped the then special director ML Sharma, who was from the 1972 batch and was believed to be the front-runner for the post. Sharma subsequently resigned after high drama that saw no clarity for a few hours about the then DCBI Vijay Kumar's successor.
One of the high-profile cases that the CBI probed under Kumar was the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj murder case. Under him, the then Joint Director Arun Kumar-led probe teams against the servants -- Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay Mondal -- was rejected by the CBI. Ashwani Kumar had brought in the Dehradun Unit, led by SP Neelabh Kishore, to probe the case afresh. This team indicted the Talwars, a finding upheld by the trial court but rejected by the higher courts.
Kumar was DGP of Himachal Pradesh from August 2006 to July 2008 and then the Director of CBI from August 2008 to November 2010. He was Governor of Nagaland between 2013 and 2014 and also briefly held the charge of Governor of Manipur. He is survived by his wife and son.
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