Why CBI wants top cop Rajeev Kumar: ‘Missing evidence’ in chit fund scam cases

Ravik Bhattacharya, Sweety Mishra
Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (Express File photo)

THE CBI's push to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar is aimed at locating "crucial evidence" linked to the "larger conspiracy" behind the chit fund scams that the agency is probing, a senior officer claimed.

"Crucial evidence was not handed over. It was either destroyed… We want to take the investigation further. We are looking into the larger conspiracy connected to the chit fund scams," said Pankaj Srivastav, CBI Joint Director in Kolkata.

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CBI sources claimed this evidence "holds the key to connecting these scams to influential persons" in West Bengal and outside.

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According to the CBI, the evidence collected by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was formed by the state in April 2013 to probe the Saradha chit fund scam, and headed by Kumar, includes a laptop, five cellphones and documents, including a diary purportedly of Saradha Group promoter Sudipta Sen.

The case was taken up by the CBI in 2014 on the Supreme Court's orders. "During the interrogation of those arrested in the Saradha scam and other chit fund scams, we found that crucial evidence seized by the SIT was not handed over to us. This included a diary, pen drives and documents that were seized from Sen's offices. We learnt that they had the names of influential people and records of payment," claimed a CBI officer linked to the probe.

CM Mamata Banerjee with Rajeev Kumar (left) at the dharna site in Esplanade. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Rajeev Kumar (53), a 1989-batch IPS officer, is a graduate in Computer Science from the then University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee). He has held various posts in West Bengal and Kolkata police, including SP Birbhum, Special SP (Enforcement Branch), Deputy Commissioner, Joint Commissioner (Special Task Force) and DIG (CID), among others.

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Former colleagues told The Indian Express that Kumar was "very effective" in the STF and "the brain behind crushing Maoists in Jangalmahal". After 2011, the officer is said to have become close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has often praised his work in public.

CBI sources claimed they have been trying to question Kumar for the last few years. "We have been calling his office, and even wrote to him to cooperate. But he seemed to be unwilling," they claimed.