Suicides wipe out CBI-raided family

A bureaucrat charged with graft and his son today hanged themselves accusing the CBI of harassment, two months after his wife and daughter had committed suicide saying they felt humiliated by the agency's raids on their home.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 28.09.16
BK Bansal and his son Yogesh at the funeral of Satyabala and Neha in July

New Delhi, Sept. 27: A bureaucrat charged with graft and his son today hanged themselves accusing the CBI of harassment, two months after his wife and daughter had committed suicide saying they felt humiliated by the agency's raids on their home.

The suicides that have now wiped out B.K. Bansal's family have brought the whys and hows of house raids by investigative agencies under the scanner. Only yesterday, the Supreme Court had nudged the government over a petition that cites the Bansals' tragedy and seeks guidelines for such raids.

Police sources said that Bansal and son Yogesh, 25, had left behind purported suicide notes that blamed "harassment and mental torture by senior CBI officials".

"We have sent copies of the suicide note to the CBI for further examination," deputy commissioner (east) Rishi Pal said.

"It's like asking a murder accused to probe his own role in the crime," a former Delhi police commissioner, who didn't want to be named, quipped.

Asked by reporters, Pal said that no case for abetment to suicide "has been registered yet".

Bansal, a director-general in the corporate affairs ministry who was due to retire next month, was arrested on July 17 after being allegedly caught accepting a bribe from a pharma company. The CBI raided his east Delhi apartment several times after the arrest.

Bansal's wife Satyabala, 57, and daughter Neha, 27, hanged themselves in their bedrooms on July 19, triggering Yogesh's descent into depression, neighbours said.

The two women's purported suicide notes cited their "humiliation" at the CBI raids and the cancellation of Neha's impending marriage because of the stigma of the arrest.

While granting interim bail to Bansal to attend the funerals, the trial court had questioned the need to arrest graft accused.

"These are not conventional crimes like murder or rape. Earlier, the CBI used to not arrest accused in such cases," special judge Gurdeep Singh had said.

"The evidences are mostly documentary in nature and the accused are public servants. The agency needs to rethink whether it is necessary to arrest in such cases."

Two years ago, the apex court had discouraged arrests without proper investigation for alleged offences punishable with up to seven years' jail --- a category that included the charges against Bansal.

"Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and casts scars forever. Lawmakers know it, so also the police," the top court had said in the July 2014 ruling.

When Bansal received regular bail on August 26, the judge had cited the "unfortunate happening in his family, where his wife and daughter committed suicide when he was in police custody; he himself is suffering from a medical condition; his only son is in depression...."

Bansal had told the judge: "My son is sitting like a statue. I fear he too will do what his mother and sister did."

S. Batra, a resident of the apartment block, said Bansal "was being called to the CBI headquarters routinely even after he got bail" and that "we learnt that his son too was called several times".

A CBI statement that said the agency was "deeply saddened" at today's deaths denied that Yogesh had ever been summoned.

"The CBI officials should be tried for harassing the family and committing excesses," said a relative, Manoj Kumar Bansal.

The police said the last visitor to Bansal's flat was a priest who had been performing rituals for the family over the past two months.

"He told us Bansal had called him last evening and given him Rs 2,000, saying he and his son would be leaving town for 15 days," an officer said.

Around 8.40am, the maid found the door of the first-floor flat unlocked and walked in to find Bansal and Yogesh hanging in two different bedrooms.

Police sources said Bansal had left a five-page handwritten suicide note and Yogesh a two-page note. "Both had stapled their photos on their notes, which also contained phone numbers of relatives," an officer said.

"There was the original copy and four photocopies of each suicide note, with one copy left in each of the flat's three bedrooms and two in the dining hall."

Sources said the notes named specific CBI officers but deputy commissioner Pal declined to confirm this or the nature of harassment mentioned.

Neighbours said Bansal and Yogesh, who seems to have been in the property business, hardly interacted with other residents of the housing complex. Their lifestyle was modest and they owned an old Maruti Zen.

The CBI accuses Bansal of seeking a Rs 50-lakh bribe from a Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company, offering not to recommend a probe into charges that it had duped 24,000 investors out of Rs 176 crore.

Agency officials say the company agreed to pay Rs 20 lakh and handed Bansal Rs 11 lakh in the first instalment.

"He was caught red-handed while accepting the balance Rs 9 lakh outside a Delhi hotel. We seized Rs 56 lakh from his home during the raids," a CBI source said.

Agency spokesperson R.K. Gaur said investigation into the graft case was on, with the company as the accused. "The chargesheet has not been filed so far," he said.