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Saradha scam: CBI releases Rajeev Kumar after three hours of questioning; Kolkata Police chief returning home

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday released Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar after questioning him for three hours in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam. He has left the CBI office in Shillong and is on his way back to Kolkata, CNN News18 reported.

The investigation agency has been interrogating Kumar at its Shillong office for the last five days.

Kumar was examined along with former Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh for two of the five days. The ex-MP was arrested in 2013 in connection with the Saradha scam, and has been out on bail since 2016. Ghosh had implicated BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was once the right-hand man of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, and 12 others in the Saradha scam.

Three senior CBI officers questioned Kumar for nearly nine hours on Saturday about his alleged role in the tampering of crucial evidence in the scam, officials said. He was questioned for 11 hours on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court had directed Kumar to appear before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperate in the investigation of cases arising out of the Saradha chit fund scam. The apex court chose Shillong as a neutral meeting place "to avoid all unnecessary controversy" and made it clear that Kumar would not be arrested. The CBI moved the Supreme Court after its officials were thwarted by the Kolkata Police when they had gone to Kumar's official residence to question him on 3 February.

The CBI had alleged in the Supreme Court that Kumar, who was leading the SIT probe into Saradha chit fund scam, tampered with the electronic evidence and handed over documents to the agency some of which were "doctored". The apex court directed him to appear before the investigating agency at a neutral place in Shillong "to avoid all unnecessary controversy".

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had rushed to the spot and staged a three-day 'Save the Constitution' sit-in against the CBI move, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah of plotting a "coup".

The Saradha Group — an umbrella company of over 200 private firms and once one of the largest chit fund companies in eastern India — allegedly tricked poor and marginalised people from villages and small towns into handing over hundreds of crores of rupees by promising huge returns for their investments. The group is believed to have raised Rs 200 to 300 billion from millions of depositors before shutting shop in April 2013, when the alleged Rs 10,000-crore scam came to light.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2019 15:02:10 IST

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