In the run-up to the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, the BJP and Congress had accused the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government of using Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (53) to tap their phones. As a graduate in Computer Science from the then University of Roorkee (now IIT-Roorkee), the 1989-batch IPS officer from Uttar Pradesh is known to be tech-savvy.
Before the 2011 elections, Banerjee had also accused the then Left Front government of phone-tapping, but refrained from taking any names.
“After coming to power in 2011, Mamata Banerjee was initially reluctant to retain Kumar. But, following the advice of senior officers, she did not shunt him out,” said a senior police officer.
By May 2016, Kumar had earned her trust, and was made Kolkata Police Commissioner. After the BJP and Congress accused Kumar of tapping their phones, the Election Commission told the state government to replace him. He was removed during the assembly polls, but later reinstated.
Kumar is now seen as close to the TMC dispensation. According to sources, the state BJP has been pressing the party leadership in Delhi to put pressure on a section of IPS officers seen as close to Banerjee before the Lok Sabha polls, and Kumar heads the list.
Last September, a series of audio clips of purported telephone conversations between Mukul Roy, former TMC leader who is now with the BJP, and Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary in charge of West Bengal, started doing the rounds of social media. In one clip, Roy purportedly asks Vijayvargiya to talk to BJP president Amit Shah and get CBI to keep a watch on “four IPS officers” and “scare” them.
“Jo char IPS hain, unpe CBI ko thoda nazar dalna hoga. Isme agar ek baar dhyan denge, toh yeh IPS log dar jayenge (CBI should keep a watch on these four IPS officers. If we focus on this, these IPS officers will get scared),” Roy purportedly tells Vijayvargiya.
Some IPS officers who were part of a team set up to probe the Saradha chit fund case have been on the CBI’s radar and were earlier called for questioning. As head of the team, Kumar was called for interrogation too.
In the purported conversation, Roy also says that he will send the names of two officers for being posted in the Income Tax department as “director (investigation) and assistant director (investigation)”.
Vijayvargiya also purportedly talks of a Matua leader who wants to join the BJP. The Matuas, belonging to the Scheduled Caste, are a major vote bank in the state. He purportedly asks about other Matua community leaders, including TMC MP Mamatabala Thakur.
In another audio clip, Roy purportedly informs Vijayvargiya that journalist Mathew Samuel, who carried out the Narada sting operation against TMC leaders, informed him of a documentary which would “finish” the TMC. The Narada sting operation, released through a news website just before the 2016 assembly polls, purportedly showed TMC leaders and a police officer accepting cash bribes for favours. In his purported conversation with Vijayvargiya, Roy says Samuel has asked for Rs 2 crore for the documentary, of which Rs 50 lakh has to be paid as advance in Hong Kong. “I am asking him to talk to you. After speaking with him, if you give the signal, then I will take action,” he purportedly tells Vijayvargiya.
Vijayvargiya had claimed that the audio clips were fake, while Roy had alleged that his phone was being tapped by Kolkata Police.
Besides heading the STF, Kumar has also held the posts of SP (Birbhum), Special SP (Enforcement Branch), Deputy Commissioner (Kolkata Police) and Deputy Inspector General (CID). “He proved his ability at a time when the TMC government was taking on Maoists. He was the man behind the arrest of Chattradhar Mahato and other Maoist leaders. As the head of the Kolkata Police Special Task Force, he was instrumental in nabbing terrorists and cracking down on fake currency rackets,” said a senior Kolkata Police officer.
In September 2018, the Kolkata Police arrested a BJP leader, Ranajit Majumder, in connection with an alleged LPG scam. The matter is under investigation.