The West Bengal Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, and the Kolkata Police Commissioner have denied that some of the state’s top policemen sat on a dharna with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee earlier this month.
Banerjee had sat on a three-day dharna starting February 3 after a CBI team reached Kolkata to question the Police Commissioner in connection with a probe into chit fund scam cases.
In affidavits submitted before the Supreme Court, Chief Secretary Malay Kumar, DGP Virendra and Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar said “no police officer, ever sat or joined the the Dharna along with the Hon’ble Chief Minister in uniform or otherwise at any given point in time”.
On the presence of the DGP and some other officers at the dharna venue, the affidavits filed in response to the apex court’s direction explained they were there only to arrange security as the CM was an Z plus protectee, as the protest was “totally unscheduled and at a time when there was intelligence of likely disturbance due to inexplicable action of CBI”.
The CBI, which took over the investigation into chit fund cases following an order of the Supreme Court on May 9, 2014, had approached the court on February, alleging that its officers probing the matter were “held hostage” by state police on February 3 when they went to the residence of Rajeev Kumar. The probe agency also claimed that the state police laid siege to the official residence of its Joint Director Pankaj Srivastava in Kolkata, and sought contempt action against the personnel.
Following this, the court had directed the Commissioner, the DGP and the state government to reply to the CBI’s contentions. It also asked Rajeev Kumar to appear before the CBI for questioning in Shillong.
In his reply affidavit, Rajeev Kumar said about 25-30 people claiming to be CBI officers along with about 30 media personnel arrived at the main gate of his residence that day. They told the guards that they were on a “secret/special operation” and “forcefully tried to enter”, despite being told that he was in the office, Rajeev Kumar said, adding that local police who arrived at the scene then “advised” the CBI officials to proceed to the Shakespeare Sarani Police Station “to explain the purpose of their visit”.
The Kolkata Commissioner said that at the police station, the CBI officials were treated well.
All three officials categorically denied that the local police had laid siege to the official residence of Srivastava or had tried to harm him or his family.
According to the CBI, the state police had withdrawn from Srivastava’s residence only after he spoke to some news channels and the matter became public.
Refuting this, Rajeev Kumar said “the retreat of the Police Force was not on account of any media report but on account of the fact that the situation had normalised”.
The affidavits also explained the “cooperation” extended by the state police to the CBI in investigating the chit fund cases. Rajeev Kumar said he appeared before the CBI in Shillong as directed by the Supreme Court on February 9 and was questioned for five days.
Malay Kumar said the state police authorities “have extended and offered their full cooperation and support, both in terms of manpower and equipment to the Petitioner/CBI to ensure that the investigation is carried out effectively and efficiently in a transparent manner”. The state police had “gone out of their way to assist the CBI” to comply with the SC order, he said.
The Chief Secretary also requested the court to direct CBI “not to make any vague allegations against any State Official without substantial and cogent evidence to support the same…”.