Known among colleagues as one of the most efficient officers around, 53-year-old Rajeev Kumar belongs to the 1989 batch of the IPS. The former Commissioner of Kolkata Police is now wanted by the CBI which has accused him of tampering with evidence in the Saradha chit fund case.
On February 4, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna in Kolkata after CBI officers knocked on the doors of Kumar, an incident that was followed by a dramatic standoff between the Kolkata Police and investigators from the central agency. Mamata’s intervention, albeit in a reiteration of the position of her state and party against the Centre and BJP, was an extraordinary endorsement of the then Commissioner, who is now ADG, CID.
Sources who have watched Kumar’s career closely over the years say that with his ability to successfully carry out secret operations and electronic surveillance, the officer was close to the leadership of the CPI(M) when the Left Front was in power in Bengal before 2011.
Kumar was among the officers about whom Mamata made inquiries after taking over. The Chief Minister is said to have had some reservations, but was reportedly assured by senior police officers about the helpfulness of Kumar.
“After coming to power in 2011, Mamata was initially reluctant (to trust Kumar with a key responsibility), but at the advice of senior officers who were aware of the prowess of Kumar, she decided did not ‘shunt’ him,” a senior police officer in the state said.
In January 2012, Kumar was appointed Commissioner of the newly formed Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate. After the Saradha chit fund scam broke in 2013, Kumar was made the head of the Special Task Force in charge of the investigation. Kumar and his team arrested Sudipto Sen, the chairman of the Saradha Group, along with two of his associates from Jammu and Kashmir in April 2013.
In May 2014, the Supreme Court transferred all cases to the CBI, given the inter-state nature of the alleged Saradha scam. The SIT, which had by now conducted a year-long probe, had to hand over to the CBI all case papers, evidence, and the accused it had arrested.
In 2016, just before the Assembly elections, Kumar’s abilities and reported closeness with the Chief Minister saw his elevation as Kolkata Police Commissioner. However, both the BJP and Congress complained against him, accusing the officer of tapping the phones of Opposition leaders.
The Election Commission asked the state government to replace Kumar. Accordingly, he was replaced by Soumen Mitra who was then ADG, CID. But Mitra served in the post for barely a month. Kumar was brought back as Commissioner on May 21, 2016.
“He proved his abilities during the period when Mamata Banerjee’s government was taking on the Maoists. He was the man behind the arrest of (the leader of the Lalgarh movement) Chhattradhar Mahato and other Maoist leaders (in September 2009). As chief of the Special Task Force of the Kolkata Police, he was instrumental in nabbing alleged terrorists and cracking down on fake currency rackets. He was one of the officers who had provided vital inputs to the Delhi and Mumbai Police STFs. He also played a role in high-profile cases like the American Center attack (2002) and the Khadim owner’s abduction (2001),” said a senior Kolkata Police officer.
Kumar, a BE in computer science from the University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee), has held several important posts in the West Bengal and Kolkata Police, including that of the SP, Birbhum, Special SP, Enforcement Branch, Deputy Commissioner, Kolkata Police, Joint Commissioner, Special Task Force, Deputy Inspector General, CID, etc.
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