Race starts for RAW, IB top posts
A Research and Analysis Wing officer whose name has surfaced in the bribery case against benched special CBI director Rakesh Asthana is in the race for the top post in the country’s external intelligence agency, sources in the security establishment said.
The Narendra Modi government is expected to appoint the next chiefs of the country’s external and internal spy agencies by mid-December since their current bosses, Anil Kumar Dhasmana (RAW) and Rajiv Jain (Intelligence Bureau), are to retire on December 31.
Sources said Samant Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer from the Punjab cadre whose is said to be close to Asthana, was a co-frontrunner for the RAW chief’s post along with K. Ilango of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, who was recalled from Colombo in 2015 amid controversy. Both are special secretaries with RAW.
Arvind Kumar, a 1984-batch Bihar-cadre IPS officer who is currently a special director in the IB, and Madhya Pradesh police chief R.K. Shukla are among the favourites for the IB chief’s chair.
The CBI has alleged that Goel tried to dilute the Moin Qureshi money-laundering and corruption probe with the help of alleged middlemen and brothers Manoj and Somesh Prasad, who are in custody in the Asthana bribery case. The agency claims to have intercepted telephone conversations and WhatsApp messages suggesting a link between Goel and the brothers.
“The Centre had initially thought of giving an extension to Dhasmana but changed its mind,” an official said.
Ilango was recalled from his posting as RAW’s Colombo station chief in early 2015 at the behest of the Sri Lankan government, which accused him of trying to help the Opposition oust President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
India’s foreign ministry, however, denied the allegation and said Ilango’s sudden transfer was a routine once.
“Ilango was accused of links with the Sri Lankan Opposition, and Colombo had urged New Delhi to recall him,” a senior security official attached to the Union home ministry said. “National security adviser Ajit Doval had to rush to Colombo to defuse the crisis.”
According to the grapevine, New Delhi had grown concerned about the increasing closeness between Rajapaksa’s government and China’s.
Arvind Kumar “is an expert on Kashmir issues and counter-terrorism and is among the favourites (for the IB chief’s post) considering the Prime Minister’s constant focus on Kashmir,” a home ministry official said.
Bribe case files
Delhi High Court has allowed benched CBI director Alok Verma and joint director A.K. Sharma to inspect the files of the bribery case against Asthana, now with the Central Vigilance Commission, to check whether any evidence has been tampered with.
The high court order comes a day before the Supreme Court’s scheduled hearing of Verma’s plea challenging the Centre’s decision to bench him and sending him on leave.
Verma can inspect the files at the CVC office on Thursday and Sharma can do so on Friday. CBI superintendent of police Satish Dagar will be present during the inspections.
The court has extended till December 7 its order directing the CBI to maintain status quo in the proceedings against Asthana.