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Amidst CBI feud, agency names its special director as prime accused

The agency charging its own second-in-command hints that all is not well within CBI

New Delhi: In an interesting development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has named its Special Director Rakesh Asthana as an accused for allegedly demanding and taking bribe from a businessman. Asthana is No. 2 in the CBI hierarchy.

The Premier investigating agency named Asthana as accused Number 1 for demanding and taking a bribe from Moin Qureshi, a Rampur-based meat exporter who was under investigation in a corruption case by a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Asthana himself.

Moin Qureshi was raided by the Income Tax department in 2014 and his BBM messages with former CBI director AP Singh had led to Singh’s resignation as member of the Union Public Services Commission. In 2017, the CBI had registered a case and this was one of the many major cases being handled by Asthana.

According to sources, CBI has put telephone intercepts, WhatsApp messages, money trail and a statement before the magistrate under Section 164.

The FIR has also named Samant Kumar Goel, Special Director of India’s external intelligence agency (R&AW), but not as an accused. The FIR states that Goel was well known to, and had been in regular touch with two accused – Manoj and Somesh. Goel’s role in the case remains under investigation by the CBI, sources were quoted as saying in a media report.

Cracks within CBI

  • On October 4, Sana Satish had named Asthana before the Magistrate. He claimed that he was being harassed by CBI officers to pay more bribe.
  • In a statement, Satish named three people – Rakesh Asthana, Manoj Prasad, and Prasad’s relative Somesh Srivastava – before the concerned magistrate. He also confessed that he had bribed a whopping Rs 3 cr to stay away from the investigation while agency officers were harassing him to dig more bribe.
  • According to the media reports, Satish made a further advance of Rs 25 lakh to a conduit to get relief from appearing before the SIT for questioning. This was done on the instructions of Manoj Prasad.
  • On September 21, reacting to the complaint by its Special Director Rakesh Asthana to the CVC against its chief Alok Verma, the CBI had informed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) about investigating Asthana in six cases of corruption.
  • The CBI has also said Asthana was maligning Director Alok Verma’s image and trying to “intimidate” officials by sending a “frivolous” complaint to the CVC against Verma.
  • The CBI remarks came after media reports claimed that Asthana had filed a complaint before the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) alleging interference in the probes undertaken by the Special Investigation Team under him.
  • This episode had brought the cracks within CBI, particularly between the CBI chief and the number 2 official in hierarchy, the special director out in the open. It is important to note here that the CBI Chief Alok Verma will soon be retiring from his post.
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