Rajeev Kumar with Mamata Banerjee
From the archives

New Delhi/Kolkata: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued a lookout notice for former Kolkata Police Commissioner and ADG-CID Rajeev Kumar to stop him from leaving the country. The agency had earlier sought permission to interrogate Kumar in connection with the Saradha scam.

Kumar’s act of escaping the law follows the 21 May Supreme Court refusal for an urgent listing of his plea against his arrest.

CBI officials said on Sunday that the CBI had alerted all the airports and immigration centres to stop Kumar from leaving the country and to inform the agency about his whereabouts.

The agency wants to interrogate Kumar, a 1989-batch IPS officer, in the Saradha Ponzi scam of Rs 2,500 crore. He was leading a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the West Bengal Police before handing the investigation over to the CBI that allegedly found that he was rather trying to tamper with or hide incriminating evidence against some functionaries of the State government.

The CBI had told the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of Kumar was necessary because he was not cooperating in the investigation. The agency said he had an evasive and obstructionist approach towards the questions posed by the agency.

In February, the Supreme Court had directed then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to make himself available before the CBI and “faithfully” cooperate with the agency in the investigation of cases arising out of the Saradha chit fund scam probe. This followed the drama of West Bengal Police holding CBI officers who had gone to Kolkata to question Kumar hostage.

The apex court had said Kumar would appear before the CBI for investigation in Shillong, Meghalaya. He did, but nothing came out of that round of interrogation.

On behalf of the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that Kumar was in charge of the investigation of the SIT where he allowed the release of confiscated mobile phones and laptops seized from the accused. These pieces of evidence contained important records of the alleged involvement of politicians in the scandal.

In May 2014, when the national media was oblivious of Bengal’s Ponzi scandals, Sirf News had reported that the Enforcement Directorate suspected that some officials and agents of the Saradha Group had made depositors’ money worth hundreds of crores disappear by hacking into the agency’s web-based accounts.

In September that year, Sirf News reported that Sudipta Sen, Debjani Mukherjee and Kunal Ghosh alone were not responsible for swindling money of investors in the infamous Saradha scandal. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had indicted the promoters, directors and other management staff of 14 companies of the group on various charges.

The staff of the Saradha group, as per the SFIO, collected money from gullible investors illegally, gave false assurances to the people and wrong statements to investigating agencies, cheated people even otherwise and indulged in conspiracies that invite criminal proceedings.

In the light of these findings by the ED, SFIO and CBI, the records that Kumar has allegedly fiddled with assume grave importance in the investigation into the case of defrauding the poor and lower middle class people of Bengal and some adjoining States.