The Ministry of Home Affairs has cleared appointment of senior IPS officer and additional DGP Rakesh Asthaana as the additional director of the CBI, recently. Currently, Asthaana is the police commissioner of Surat.
The 1984 batch IPS Asthaana’s name was among the frontrunners to be appointed as additional director in the country’s premier investigating agency, among officers of his batch in other states.
Asthaana, who will turn 53 in a few days, also met the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha recently, after the CBI considered his name for the post.
The other Gujarat cadre IPS officers in the CBI are joint director Keshav Kumar and SP V Chandrashekhar.
This is Asthaana’s second stint in the CBI. Earlier, he was posted in CBI, Dhanbad, in 1994 and was one of the key investigators of the “fodder scam”. The trials in some of the cases in the scam are still in court. Former Bihar chief minister and RJD minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagannath Mishra are accused in five cases.
Soon after he was repatriated to his parent cadre in Gujarat, Asthaana headed the SIT appointed by the then Narendra Modi government to probe the Godhra train carnage of February 27, 2002 which had sparked off riots across the state. Asthaana established that the 58 deaths in the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express were the result of a conspiracy, a line that was toed later by the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court under former CBI Director R K Raghavan.
However, the “mastermind” of the carnage, named by both SITs – Maulana Husain Umarji – was acquitted by the special riot court and died in 2013, two years later.
Known as a no-nonsense, fearless and a strict policeman, Asthaana has been serving as Surat Police Commissioner from last four years and was recently elected as the president of the IPS Association of Gujarat.
After Asthaana became the president, the association held two important meetings and represented the issue to Chief Minister Anandi Patel of the delayed promotions of the additional DGPs and IGPs in the state. The association also decided to provide help to the families of the police officials arrested in fake encounter cases of Gujarat who have been seeking security and help from years.
Asthaana also supervised the Asaram and Narayan Sai rape cases of Surat sisters and his teams arrested Sai from Haryana. The arrest of Sai and Asaram had sent shock waves across the country when the Surat police exposed the molestation of girls inside ashrams in Surat and Ahmedabad.
Under his guidance, Surat set up the first CCTV surveillance system in the city, which was recently studied by a Central team from Delhi for replicating in other cities.
Commenting on the development, Asthaana told The Indian Express, “My name was given by the state government from among the officers who were willing to go on deputation. When I was asked, I expressed my willingness to go to Delhi and my name was sent to the MHA. I would be pleased to serve there.”
With Asthaana moving to the CBI in New Delhi, the state government is all set to hunt for the new police commissioner in Surat. The additional DGP promotions that are round the corner in the state might bring a new police commissioner for Surat too.
(With inputs from Vijaita Singh in New Delhi)