Kolkata: The CBI's questioning of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar is an attempt to try and find the "crucial evidence" that appears to have disappeared — in particular a pen drive and a laptop. But what does the CBI hope to find? The answer: CCTV footage that might help the agency in pinpointing "influential persons" involved in the scam, said sources.
Earlier, Pankaj Srivastav, CBI Joint Director in Kolkata, had said that the "crucial evidence" was not handed over by the state to the agency. Hinting at the possibility of a larger conspiracy, the CBI had alleged that this was likely "destroyed" or "concealed".
The CBI maintains that the evidence collected by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) formed by West Bengal and headed by Kumar to probe the Saradha chit fund scam included a laptop, five cellphones and documents, including a diary purportedly of Saradha Group promoter Sudipta Sen.
In 2014, following orders from the apex court, the CBI took over the case. "But crucial evidence wasn't handed over — a red diary, pen drives and documents. These, we believe, have the names of the influential people and records of payments that were made," said a CBI officer. “Amar kachhey kono lal diary chhilo na (I don’t have any red diary),” he said, while being produced before a district court in North 24-Parganas on Tuesday afternoon.
But whether or not, the red diary ever existed — the key piece of evidence in the case was likely to be the CCTV footage from Sen's offices at Midland Park and his residence. "We know for a fact that the CCTV camera were there and that the footage was recorded and stored. We also know that this was handed over to the SIT," alleged an officer.
The existence of the CCTV footage was verified by the testimonies of a female accountant at the offices and Debjani Mukherjee, the executive director of the company and the effective second-in-command. The duo have told the CBI that the "CCTV camera footage was confiscated by the SIT and then transferred onto pen drives". Mukherjee, sources added, was likely to be interrogated again by the CBI.
This footage, the CBI maintains, shows "several influential people" who frequented the premises of Sen's offices and residence, said CBI sources. "We hope to ascertain who came to the offices and how frequently, following which we will question them regarding their involvement. Just because someone met Sen at his office, or visited doesn't mean they are involved in the scam. But it is something that needs to be investigated," said a CBI source.
The Saradha Ponzi scheme collapsed in April 2013. They were running a collective investment schemes locally known as chit fund which suffered an estimated loss of more Rs 250 billion to over 2 million depositors.
While the police and the CBI refused to comment officially, all eyes are now on Kumar's appearance before the CBI in Shillong on Sunday. He was grilled for over eight hours on Saturday. Sources said that the Kolkata police chief was ready with his defence and will try to highlight that there was no substantiate evidence to prove that he tried to destroy the evidences to shield the accused.