Among the six cases that the CBI has opened against its own Special Director Rakesh Asthana is an FIR against Kolkata businessman Dipesh Chandak who had turned approver in the Bihar fodder scam probe. Chandak, it is learnt, was picked up by a CBI team on alleged corruption charges but gave them the slip. His current whereabouts are not known. Sources said two CBI men picked up Chandak from his house in Kolkata after an FIR was registered against him in August. Chandak, sources said, told the CBI men he knew he would be arrested because the agency was targeting Asthana who had investigated the fodder scam.
Chandak is still to be traced but his ‘detention’ in Kolkata has come under the scrutiny of CBI Director Alok Verma.
On September 21, the CBI said it had informed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) that it was investigating Asthana in six cases of corruption. Sources said the six cases include two FIRs related to the Sterling Biotech case, two FIRs related to the arrest of journalist Upendra Rai, an FIR regarding the recent searches made by the agency on a caterer at the Palika Services Officers’ Institute (PSOI) in Chanakyapuri in New Delhi, and the Chandak case.
The CBI came out with the statement on the six cases in response to a complaint by Asthana to the Centre that Director Verma and Additional Director A K Sharma were “interfering” in cases probed by him and his team and had even tried to stop a search linked to former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad in connection with the IRCTC scam case.
Chandak’s name, sources said, came up after the CBI arrested an AGM with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Ranchi for allegedly accepting a bribe from a middleman at Chandak’s behest. Sources said Chandak paid the bribe to secure a lease extension for his warehouse rented to FCI. The case was registered by the Anti-Corruption Unit III of the CBI and was supervised by Additional Director Sharma.
Following the trap, sources said, two CBI officers, including the investigating officer (IO), went to Kolkata to escort Chandak to Ranchi for further investigation. Once at his home, they asked Chandak to accompany them to Howrah railway station from where they intended to board a train to Ranchi. It was here, sources said, that Chandak made the purported statement about Asthana.
The CBI officers accompanied Chandak in his own car to Howrah station. Midway, Chandak said he was feeling unwell and asked the CBI officers to step out of the car. The moment they did that, Chandak, sources said, sped away. Left behind in the car was the CBI IO’s bag.
The CBI team then registered a case of theft about the missing bag with the local police, while Chandak registered a case of wrongful confinement at the Bhawanipur police station.
With Chandak on the run, the IO’s bag was returned to the CBI office in Kolkata. The Kolkata office of the CBI has taken cognizance of the incident and the matter has been brought to the notice of the CBI Director.
Sent a detailed questionnaire Thursday by The Indian Express, the CBI responded only with details of the FIR against Chandak.
“CBI laid a trap on 17.08.2018 at Ranchi and on interception of Shri Ranjay Chitlangia and Shri Ataullah Sikander, Area Manager, FCI, Ranchi, it was revealed that another accused Dipesh Chandak allegedly arranged illegal gratification. Accordingly, Ranjay Chitlangia gave the said bribe to Shri Ataullah Sikandar, AGM, FCI,” the CBI spokesperson said.
“The bribe amount of Rs 2.5 lakh was recovered from Shri Ataullah Sikandar, then Area Manager, FCI Ranchi. On 17.08.2018, CBI arrested Shri Ataullah Sikandar, AGM of FCI, Ranchi and Shri Ranjay Chitlangia, Manager of M/s Bina Textiles. Both are at present in judicial custody. Searches were conducted at office and residential premises of accused persons. Another accused, Dipesh Chandak, was asked to join the investigation through notice. However, he has not joined investigation so far. He is presently absconding,” the spokesperson said.