Questions about CBI actions against Rajeev Kumar

The timing of the raid on the home of Calcutta’s police commissioner should not come as a surprise

  • Published 13.02.19, 10:19 AM
  • Updated 13.02.19, 10:19 AM
  • 3 mins read
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Calcutta Police outside the residence of Rajeev Kumar, Commissioner of Police. Sanjoy Chattopadhyay

Sir — It seems that bad timing lies at the heart of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s actions against Calcutta’s police commissioner, Rajeev Kumar. In his article, “Behind the high drama”, (Feb 7), Swapan Dasgupta says that the Calcutta Police had forcibly prevented the CBI from serving Kumar a notice to appear before the agency. But one wonders why such a large number of officials were required to land up at the commissioner’s door just to serve a notice, that too at such an odd hour. Further, what took the CBI so many years to take this step? This raises suspicions that the sudden proactive behaviour was the Centre’s response to the mammoth rally organized by Mamata Banerjee in January against the Narendra Modi regime.

Dasgupta is perhaps correct in saying that the West Bengal chief minister went beyond the call of duty, risking the dignity of her chair, by appearing in person at the site of conflict. However, her political maturity prompted her to instantly call a dharna, accusing the agency and its guardians of violating federal norms.

Although Dasgupta suggests that the euphoria of having driven the CBI away was cut short by the Supreme Court’s order that directed Kumar to appear before the CBI in Shillong, one must not underplay the immunity granted to Kumar by the same court against any coercive measure or arrest. Besides, the many controversies surrounding the CBI, including the reported improprieties of officials and the selection of the new chief, cannot be ignored either. One only hopes that regardless of the bitter contest, the general elections of 2019 are held peacefully.

Babuti Banerjee,

Calcutta

Sir — The unprecedented face-off between the CBI and Calcutta Police makes it clear that even the country’s top investigating agency can be manipulated by the powers that be. The matter should not have been politicized. If the CBI had indeed shown a vindictive attitude towards the state, the issue should have been taken to the Supreme Court in the first place. The unwarranted war-like situation pushed the state to the brink of a constitutional crisis. Mere questioning of a person of interest could hardly have violated federal principles. Moreover, the presence of the commissioner at the venue of the political protest that ensued has also raised eyebrows.

The CBI, too, should have considered the possible political furore and been more cautious before taking such a drastic step. But, in spite of the vociferous claims of a ‘moral victory’ by the state government, this incident has left a blot on our political history.

Bhaskar Sanyal,

Serampore

Sir — The timing of the CBI’s raid on the house of Calcutta’s police commissioner should not come as a surprise. The entire exercise was politically motivated, with the aim of intimidating the state government. The Bharatiya Janata Party has for long been desperate to make its presence felt electorally in West Bengal, and the CBI operation seems to have been designed to give it a moral high ground. However, the BJP underestimated the clout of Bengal’s chief minister.

The dharna, which the Centre dismissed as inconsequential theatrics, actually drove home the point that institutions like the CBI can be used to settle political scores. The way Mamata Banerjee dug her heels in without panicking has left the Narendra Modi-led government flummoxed. It is also surprising that an erstwhile Trinamul Congress member said to be involved in the chit-fund scam has been enjoying immunity in the case ever since he has joined the BJP. With the battle lines drawn, the upcoming elections will surely become more interesting.

Aditya Mukherjee,

New Delhi

Sir — Any Central process should respect the federal structure of India. The CBI operation in West Bengal may have transgressed this standard of decorum. Moreover, economic scandals around the country should be thoroughly investigated with equal promptness, irrespective of the political regime. Targeting West Bengal alone is a biased stand. Why is the Vyapam scandal of Madhya Pradesh or the bitcoin scam of Gujarat not being investigated with similar urgency? This proves that a political vendetta is at play.

Kajal Chatterjee,

Sodepur

Karl Marx's grave at Highgate Cemetery, London
Karl Marx's grave at Highgate Cemetery, London Shutterstock

Grave concern

Sir — The recent attack by vandals on the grave of Karl Marx in London reminds one of the attacks on statues like those of Lenin or B.R. Ambedkar in India. These incidents indicate that a culture of intolerance is gaining ground across the world. But ideas cannot be broken down with hammers. Ordinary citizens should not let such shows of muscle scare them. Surely a thinker of Marx’s stature would not stir in his grave over petty hooligans bringing a hammer to his headstone. But he would certainly lament the day when the common man stops defending reason out of fear of extremists.

Jishnu Hore,

Calcutta

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