Doval interfered in probe against Asthana


National Security Adviser Ajit Doval interfered in the corruption investigation against CBI number two Rakesh Asthana and did not allow searches that were important to the inquiry, an officer claimed in a petition to the Supreme Court today. CBI officer Manish Kumar Sinha, who was abruptly transferred while investigating bribe charges against Rakesh Asthana, also claimed that a union minister of state took “a few crores” to help a businessman under investigation.

Petitioning the court against his transfer to Nagpur, the CBI officer said he had “documents that will shock the court”. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, rejecting his request for an urgent hearing tomorrow, replied, “Nothing shocks us.”

Manish Kumar Sinha has named Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office in the CBI vs CBI saga. He claims he heard an officer saying, on the day the government sent the CBI’s top two – director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana – on compulsory leave and transferred the entire team investigating Mr Asthana, that “things have been managed with PMO and everything is fine”.

There is no response from the PM’s office or NSA Ajit Doval till now.

The CBI officer alleged that “a few crores were paid” to a Union Minister of state who intervened on behalf of Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana.

Satish Sana, a co-accused in an investigation against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, is also the man in the middle of allegations exchanged by Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana. Both have accused each other of taking bribe from Sana.

Manish Sinha claimed that Manoj Prasad, an alleged middleman in the bribe-taking arrested on October 16, had boasted that his father Dineshwar Prasad – a former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer -had “close acquaintance” with Ajit Doval.

“This was one of the first things Manoj claimed on being brought to CBI HQ and expressed complete surprise and anger as to how CBI could pick him up, despite his close links with the NSA Shri Doval,” said the CBI officer’s petition.

“Manoj taunted us that you people have no standing whatsoever and therefore should ‘stay in limits’ and let him free. He claimed that recently his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA Ajit Doval on an important personal matter. He further claimed that India opted out of a contest from Interpol. Regarding the genuineness of this claim of Manoj, no attempt was made to verify the claim regarding the NSA Shri Doval,” the officer shared.

Mr Sinha claimed that on October 17, the CBI director briefed the National Security Advisor about Mr Asthana being named in a First Information Report (FIR). The same night, “it was informed that the NSA has informed Rakesh Asthana about the registration of FIR. It was informed that Rakesh Asthana reportedly made a request to NSA that he should not be arrested,” the petition says.

He alleged that when the investigating officer in the case – AK Bassi – asked for permission to seize Rakesh Asthana’s cell phones and for a search, “the Director CBI did not give immediate permission and reverted that the NSA (Mr Doval) has not permitted the same”. On October 22, said the petition, the Director “replied that he was not getting clearance from the NSA/Shri Doval”.

The petition claimed on October 20, NSA Doval called the CBI Director to stop raids on Devender Sharma, who has worked with Mr Asthana. There are “some important messages in one of the mobile phones of Shri Devender Kumar, though not pertaining to this case and that the mobile should not be seized,” the CBI officer said he was told.

On October 23, “the night the entire investigating team was shifted”, Mr Sinha said he was informed that someone spoke to Samant Goel (a Research and Analysis Wing Officer), who replied that things have been managed with PMO and everything is fine”. The officer’s petition says his transfer that night was “arbitrary, motivated and malafide, and was made solely with the purpose and intent to victimise the officer as the investigation revealed cogent evidence against certain powerful persons.” ndtv


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