Friday, October 26, 2018

Midnight coup in CBI,

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Midnight coup in CBI,
PM sends Director, No. 2 packing finally,
Junior-most Nageshwar Rao made Director
Verma goes to court, Asthana sulks

New Delhi, Oct 24

It was a midnight coup at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters never witnessed before when the newly appointed director, M Nageshwar Rao landed there  accompanied by a police convoy to take charge.

The 1986 Odisha cadre officer who hails from Telangana, headed the 11th floor office of Alok Verma to take charge. There was no one to give him the charge as all top bosses had been sent on forced leave by the government on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
When Verma and his number two Rakesh Asthana went to the CBI headquarters in the morning, they were stopped from entering. While Verma went to the Supreme Court to challenge his ouster, Rakesh Asthana went home sulking. The SC will hear the case on Friday.

The Cabinet Committee of Appointment (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister had issued the order at 11.45 pm yesterday asking Rao to take over the “duties and functions of CBI director with immediate effect.” The decision was taken by the PM at 11.30 pm and the file was sent by hand to the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh who is also a member of the ACC. Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO, had asked Rao earlier to be ready to leave for an important assignment at a short notice. He had no clue what that assignment will be. But all hell broke within the next 30 minutes when the official order was put out making him the new director during the period of “subsistence.” Interestingly, there is no order till now on the website of the DoPT divesting Alok Verma of the charge of the CBI and sending him on leave. However, Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were informed about their "compulsory leave" through official messengers.
In a bizarre move, the police personnel of the Delhi Police cordoned off the CBI building at 12.30 am and around 1.45 am, M Nageswar Rao came escorted by a police convoy to take charge. The stories that Rao sealed Verma's office are baseless as all the files are being scanned in the room. A new team of officers has been deputed to probe all pending cases. Nageshwar Rao removed Verma's most trusted officer Additional Director A K Sharma from all the cases. Manish Sinha who is Sharma's junior was also sent packing.

It now transpires that K V Chowdary, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, held a marathon meeting on Tuesday with his two colleagues; Sharad Kumar and M K Bhasin and sent their recommendation to the PM that both the top officers be sent on compulsory leave immediately. 
Chowdary had been asked by the Prime Minister's Office last week to step after efforts to find a solution by NSA Ajit Doval and deputy Principal Secretary P K Mishra failed. It may be mentioned that Nageswar Rao had joined the CBI in 2016 as joint director before his stunning rise as its interim director.


Verma sacked on What's App,

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Lokmat Exclusive
Verma sacked on What's App,
top IB officials searched his office,
Took away hard discs, files photo copies

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, Oct. 25

Murky details of midnight coup at the CBI headquarters revealed that its Director Alok Verma was sacked on What's App of his mobile as 1 am yesterday.

The sack order was sent through What's App as an officer of the Department of Personnel under the Prime Minister failed to deliver it physically at Verma's residence at 12.55 am. The security guards posted at Verma's Janpath residence refused to receive the letter saying that the “Saheb has gone to bed.”

Without delivering the sack order, everything would have come to a grinding halt. M Nageshwar Rao could not have taken over as acting chief of the CBI, there would have been no en-mass transfers and no search & seize operation of Verma and his officers premises.
Everybody in the government, right from the PM downwards to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to deputy principal secretary P K Mishra to Lok Ranjan, additional secretary in the DoPT who signed the actual sack order were keeping their finger crossed in their offices.
Finally, Ajit Doval told Lok Ranjan in the DoPT to send the sack order on what's app. Lok Ranjan didn't have his mobile and that too was provided by the PMO. And fortunately for the government, Verma opened his mobile phone and saw the what's app message. The moment, Lok Ranjan saw the blue lines blinking, the sack order was considered as delivered.
The entire machinery swung into action and a team of eight officers of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) rushed to the CBI headquarters and took control of the two floors where top officers used to work. Even Nageshwar Rao who was made the acting Director was told politely to stay put in his room after a brief visit to Verma's chamber on 11th floor. The importance of the raid could be gauged from the fact that an officer of the rank of the additional secretary was heading it. They took out hard disks of verma's computers, made photocopies of all the files in his room and sniffed every paper trail. Similarly, another group of officers scanned all the files and computers of A K Bassi, deputy SP who had raided and arrested his another DSP colleague Devender Kumar two days ago. The offices of A K Sharma, Joint Director (Policy) was also thoroughly searched. No one in the CBI was allowed to enter the two floors of the CBI building until the IB sleuths left the place.
It is still a mystery as to what the IB was searching for. Contrary to reports, the government was not unduly worried about the Rafale probe issue as Verma had sent the papers to A K Sharma. These papers were given to the CBI by Prashant Bhushan and routinely sent to Sharma.
But the fact that all hard disks of computers of all these transferred officers was taken away by the IB shows that it was sniffing at something else. It may also be mentioned that A K Sharma who is also a Gujrat cadre IPS officer and trusted lieutenant of PM Modi was only divested of the crucial policy division and not shunted out of Delhi. He has been retained in Delhi as head of the defunct MDMA which is probing Rajiv Gandhi assassination case for 27 years. Why he chose to side with Verma instead of Rakesh Asthana is still a mystery.