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Updated December 27th, 2023 at 23:28 IST

Bengal's new DGP Rajeev Kumar: From controversial accusations to high-stakes investigations

Amid the winds of political change in 2009, the Trinamool Congress had accused Kolkata Police's STF chief of phone surveillance on then railway minister Mamata Banerjee. A decade later, CM Banerjee protested against CBI's probe into the same IPS officer's role in the Saradha chit fund case.

Press Trust Of India
New West Bengal DGP Rajeev Kumar.
New West Bengal DGP Rajeev Kumar. | Image:PTI
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Kolkata, Dec 27 (PTI) Amid the winds of political change in 2009, the Trinamool Congress had accused Kolkata Police's STF chief of phone surveillance on then railway minister Mamata Banerjee. A decade later in 2019, Chief Minister Banerjee protested against CBI's probe into the same IPS officer's role in the Saradha chit fund case.

Fast forward to December 27, 2023, IPS officer Rajeev Kumar was appointed as the new Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG and IGP) of West Bengal Police by the TMC government.

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Currently the principal secretary of the state IT department, Kumar (57) is considered close to Banerjee and is known for his investigating and electronic surveillance skills.

Formerly a favoured officer of ex-chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Kumar's rise is marked by both controversies and acclaim.

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A 1989-batch IPS officer with an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee, Kumar held prominent positions such as commissioner of Kolkata Police, joint commissioner (Special Task Force), and director general (CID), among others. Under his leadership, the STF of Kolkata Police gained notoriety for its operations against Maoists.

Renowned for his prowess as an investigator and a formidable information network, he played a crucial role in apprehending Chattradhar Mahato, a significant figure in the Lalgarh movement. Additionally, he oversaw the STF's pivotal contributions in undermining the Maoist movement from 2009 to 2011.

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A native of Uttar Pradesh, Kumar, while serving as the STF chief in 2009, faced allegations from TMC's then-national general secretary Mukul Roy. Roy accused him of engaging in phone surveillance on behalf of the Left Front government, targeting the then railway minister Mamata Banerjee.

Former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar in his book 'Dial D for Don' praised Rajeev Kumar's investigation as senior superintendent of CID after the American Center attack in 2001 and the high-profile kidnapping case of Khadim shoe company's CEO Partha Pratim Roy Burman.

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A fitness freak and a daredevil officer, Kumar has earned immense respect within the police force for standing by his subordinates and was described by them as a true team leader.

In 2011, when TMC led by Mamata Banerjee stormed to power by defeating the Left Front, attempts were made to reassign Kumar to a less significant position, but senior police officers intervened to prevent the move.

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In 2012, when the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate was established, Kumar became its first commissioner.

In 2013, when the Saradha chit fund scam broke and the TMC dispensation was under immense pressure, Kumar arrested Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen and partner Debjani Mukherjee from Kashmir.

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Kumar led the SIT investigation, drawing both praise and criticism for his proximity to the ruling dispensation.

In November 2013, then-rebel TMC MP Kunal Ghosh, presently party spokesperson, was arrested by the SIT.

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A CBI probe into the chit fund scam was ordered by the Supreme Court in May 2014 on a petition by senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan.

Meanwhile, the TMC dispensation elevated him to additional director general of CID.

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Elevated to the additional director general of CID, he outsmarted the CBI by arresting the first accused involved in the rape of a 70-year-old nun in Nadia district.

His subsequent appointment was the 21st police commissioner of Kolkata in February 2016.

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A month later, two officers of Kolkata Police, disguised as cow smugglers, tried to bribe BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha to help them in their trade. The incident happened just a fortnight after Narada News released sting videos showing Trinamool Congress leaders purportedly accepting money from a fictitious company.

During the 2016 assembly polls, the Election Commission decided to replace him, but he was later reinstated by Mamata Banerjee after her return to power for the second consecutive time.

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On February 3, 2019, an all-out war broke out between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government, with the feisty West Bengal leader beginning a sit-in protest at a city landmark over the CBI's attempt to question Kumar in connection with chit fund scams.

Following a court order, he was questioned by CBI in Shillong, Meghalaya, regarding the Saradha case probe.

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Later that year, during the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission again decided to replace him with Anuj Sharma, and Kumar was shifted to CID as ADG.

In September, CBI sleuths carried out searches in various locations across the city, after the central investigating agency had accused him of tampering with evidence in the Saradha chit fund case.

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Later that year in December 2019, he was made principal secretary of the Information Technology and Electronics department.

Facing controversies, including accusations of phone tapping by the opposition BJP and Left during his tenure, Kumar has navigated a tumultuous path in West Bengal's political landscape. His recent appointment as DG and IGP adds a new chapter to his eventful career. PTI PNT MNB

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Published December 27th, 2023 at 23:28 IST

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