When the entire might of Government machinery closes ranks to protect one man, the obvious question one would want to ask is – why is he being nurtured? The affidavit filed by the DIG MK Sinha in Supreme Court is an explosive document which poses greater threats than it actually reveals.
It is stated in the affidavit that “There is a deliberate, concerted attempt to change the course of investigation of the said FIR, there is reasonable apprehension/ likelihood of tampering with evidence, exonerate the existing accused persons against whom there already exists overwhelming evidence and on the contrary, implicate / punish, as a first step of which the applicant was transferred to Nagpur twelve hundred kilometers away in completely arbitrary manner in the name of so-called public interest, all those, like the Applicant herein, who were involved in the investigation and were merely discharging their duties, impartially, without fear or favour”.
It is now evident that on his promotion to the rank of Special Director CBI, the Government (read PK Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the PM) got issued orders in the mid-night, much against the objections and a written dissent from the CBI Director.
CBI Director Alok Verma had opposed the promotion on the premise that the CBI will be forced to investigate its’ own Special Director at a later date. However, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi) approved it.
It is an open fact now that the Director CBI was forced to go on leave only because of the FIR that was filed against Rakesh Astana by the CBI. All officers investigating the case were shunted out in what was a bloodshed moment in the CBI history. All of them have moved the Supreme Court and the matter is now in the hands of the apex court.
“On the morning of October 16, 2018, the accused Manoj Prasad was intercepted at Delhi Airport on his arrival from Dubai and brought to CBI HQ. During the first few hours of his arrival at CBI Head Quarters, Manoj was garrulous and arrogant, both at the same time, and in equal measure. He was interviewed by the applicant (DIG MK Sinha) and others. He tried his best to ward off the investigation by dropping names of ‘high and mighty’ and mentioning his ‘top contacts’ to create fear in our mind
“As per Manoj Prasad, Dineshwar Prasad, father of Manoj and Somesh, retired as Joint Secretary, RAW and has a close acquaintance with the present National Security Advisor Ajit K. Doval (“NSA”). This was one of the first things Manoj claimed on being brought to CBI HQ and expressed complete surprise and anger as to how CBI could pick him up, despite his close links with the NSA Shri Doval.
“He started bragging and claimed that his brother Somesh is very close to an officer at Dubai (name withheld) and to Samant Goel, presently Special Secretary, R&AW and he can get us “finished off” / “kicked out”. Manoj taunted us that you people have no standing whatsoever and therefore should “stay in limits” and let him free. He claimed that recently his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA Shri Ajit Doval on an important personal matter. He further claimed that India opted out of a contest from INTERPOL. Regarding genuineness of this claim of Manoj, no attempt was made to verify the claim regarding the NSA Shri Doval,” said the shocking affidavit filed by DIG MK Sinha in Supreme Court on Monday.
“When the IO/Shri AK Bassi came to know that Shri Samant Goel / Shri Somesh had stopped talking and were exchanging WhatsApp Messages, he insisted that we need the cell phone sets of the public servants as the evidence is likely to be stored on the device and that a search be conducted. The Director CBI did not give immediate permission and reverted that the NSA has not permitted the same,” said the affidavit.
The most shocking part of the affidavit is that -“However, the INTERPOL part was discreetly verified. It is factually correct.”
Manoj also claimed a few other facts to his personal knowledge which is placed here only as the same are relevant to the context. Manoj claimed that he had met Nitin Sandesara of Sterling Biotech in London. Nitin and his brother Chetan Sandesara are the main accused in the Sterling Biotech Case involving huge money trail to Congress leader Ahmed Patel and his son and son-in-law. Rakesh Asthana was also caught for accepting a bribe of Rs.3.9 crores from this tainted business firm in 2011 alone.
“After his initial outburst, he went quiet. All the matters disclosed by Manoj were reported to senior officers. The Applicant is unaware whether the aforementioned facts were duly recorded in the interrogation statement of Manoj Prasad,” said the DIG to Supreme Court.
Manoj is now in custody. His Mobile phones were seized and the Whatsapp messages were studied. One of his phones had the Whatsapp messages stored since March 2017. The exchange of messages between Manoj and Sana Satish Babu, and Manoj and Somesh were studied which corroborates the instances of bribery mentioned in the complaint. There was no specific mention of the name of any Public Servant in any of the Whatsapp messages stored in the phone. There were references such as “too powerful people”, “Boss’’ etc. Messages indicated that they pertain to a CBI case and that Manoj and Somesh are able to obtain relief in the case on receiving payments. Further, it brought into picture one unidentified person who appeared to be the conduit between the “Boss”, to obtain the relief from CBI. This unidentified person was someone who was high in standing in CBI and too powerful, as the messages indicated”.
This brings in the RAW angle and the friendship between Asthana and Samanth Goel and how the entire RAW was being misused and abused to prepare bogus intelligence reports to protect and promote Asthana.
Now comes the role of IB. The affidavit says:
“Manoj Prasad (from the CBI Head Office) spoke to Somesh (Dubai) on 16th October afternoon and late evening. The phone number was in technical surveillance and therefore should be on record with SU (Special Unit of CBI). During one of the talks, Manoj told Somesh about him being interviewed by Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Somesh almost interrogated Manoj and among many other things, Somesh told Manoj that he will tackle any investigation/ enquiry, that he is received and seen off at the airport by IB and R&AW officials whenever he visits India. This should be on record with CBI with SU,” said the affidavit.
The two intelligence agencies IB & RAW have much to answer here.
The role of Dubai’s RAW Officer Samant Goel further stands exposed:
“Meanwhile the Special Unit had placed many a number on Technical Surveillance and was analysing the Call Data Records (CDRs). It was informed that immediately after the news broke out on arrest of Manoj Prasad in the late night on October 16, 2018 / early morning of October 17, 2018, Somesh made immediate calls to Samant Goel, who made calls to Rakesh Asthana. There were four calls between Somesh and Samant Goel and four calls between Samant Goel and Rakesh Asthana by 17th afternoon. There was also a call between Dineshwar Prasad (father of Manoj and Somesh) with Samant Goel”
The affidavit filed by the DIG MK Sinha brings to light the role of the Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha in protecting Astana.
“In the morning of October 17, 2018, a call came from the DCP Special Cell of Delhi Police on the mobile of Investigating Officer AK Bassi, DSP, CBI AC-III who did not take call. Later another Inspector of Special Cell called up and sought to know if Manoj has been arrested. Inquiries revealed that the query had originated from Cabinet Secretariat.”
How Asthana manipulated the system is further evident with these conversations –
10.1 Somesh tells Sunil Mittal (Somesh’s Father in law):
- “Asthana to Apna Aadmi Hai”.
- “Manoj has met Asthana 3 to 4 times”
- “Samant bhai met Asthana after registration of the case”.
- “Samant bhai is very close to Asthana”.
*Samant Goel tell Somesh: “Do not come to India at any cost”*
Further, the interesting part is how a Minister in the Modi Government intervened with the DoPT to protect Asthana
“As per Sana, Shri Haribhai (Minister of State) had intervened with the Senior officers of CBI through the office of the Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension [“MOS (P)”], to whom, apparently, the Director – CBI reports to*
Now comes the role of the CVC KV Chowdary who sent the CBI Director on leave and also probed the complaints made by Asthana to the Cabinet Secretary.
“Shri Sathish Babu Sana also disclosed that he met the CVC Shri KV Chowdhary along with one Gorantla Ramesh (close relative of CVC Shri KV Chowdhary and owner of Delhi Public School Hyderabad, as per Sana) somewhere in Delhi (exact date and location was not informed) and that they discussed Moin Qureshi’s case. As per Sana, in the year 2011, Shri Gorantla Ramesh sold some land and gave around Rs 4 crores out of the said sale consideration to Shri Sana, in the same month, in which Shri Sana had given Rs 50 Lakhs to Moin Qureshi. Therefore, Shri Gorantla Ramesh was examined by CBI in the Moin Qureshi’s case.
“As per Shri Sana, subsequently, the CVC Shri KV Chowdhary called Shri Rakesh Asthana to his residence and made inquiries. Shri Rakesh Asthana informed to the CVC that there is not much in evidence against them. There is no illegality in this, but the same is put on record here for the sake of completeness. No verification was undertaken and the same is based on disclosure made by Sana”
Now comes the real bombshell. The PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE”
According to the affidavit
“On October 23, 2018, the Applicant herein was informed by DIG/DD (SU) that someone spoke to Samant Goel (who was at Chandigarh at that time) and asked to help him to which Samant Goel replied that things have been managed with PMO and everything is fine. The same night the entire investigating team was shifted.”
Then the Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra chips into broker a deal (on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary) to protect Asthana. The most chilling part is – why is the Cabinet Secretary meddling in the Supreme Court-monitored probe to protect tainted Rakesh Asthana?
The affidavit sums it up beautifully:
“The la affaire Sana is symptomatic of a larger deep-rooted malaise in the country’s premier investigation agency – the CBI. The Applicant is troubled by the contents of Shri Sana’s allegations, which if proved to be true, reflect very poorly on our criminal justice delivery system in general and the CBI in particular.”
Why has the entire Government machinery turned a blind eye to protect one man?
Where does the buck stop? Who is responsible? Will there be a Supreme Court-monitored probe? Will the truth ever come out?
Is Rakesh Asthana the Duryodhana of the 2019 Mahabharata? Watch this space!
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