Bihar DGP, conned by caller on phone, is BJP’s new target. Nitish plays it down


PATNA: Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday played down an unseemly controversy around Bihar director general of police (DGP) SK Singhal for entertaining phone calls from a man who posed as the chief justice of the Patna high court and sought closure of cases against a 2011 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Aditya Kumar.

“There is no point in dragging the matter. He is retiring in two months (December 19). If he committed a mistake and later realised it, the matter should be put to rest. I ordered an inquiry, which is going on,” Nitish Kumar told reporters on Friday.

Kumar’s statement comes against the backdrop of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demands to involve the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the probe over the phone calls made by a man who posed as the chief justice and Singhal’s subsequent conduct.

“It seems Singhal did not speak to the impersonator just once but a dozen times,” said former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, wondering if the police chief took any steps to confirm that the man calling him from a mobile phone was the police chief. Modi also asked if the case against Aditya Kumar was closed on the DGP’s directions.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has, however, not taken such a harsh view. “A person calling in someone else’s name and later everyone realises that it was a bogus call and starts the investigation shows that action is being taken in this regard,” he said.

Singhal, who has declined to detail how he was conned, said it was a sensitive, serious and rare kind of issue and there was no need to speculate on the matter.

“Let the investigation be completed and I will share everything with you all at the right time. We don’t have to get into any politics. The investigation will unravel the truth. It has new dimensions also, but that will be shared only after the investigation is completed. The agencies of the Bihar police are competent enough to get to the bottom of the matter,” said Singhal.

Senior Bihar police officers said the chief minister does appear to have taken a mild view of Singhal’s handling of the phone calls. “In police, hierarchy or retirement age should not be a yardstick for condoning anyone…. If the DGP believed the caller and recommended relief to the same IPS officer earlier, how can he get away,” said a senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

To be sure, four people have been arrested by the Bihar economic offences unit including Abhishek Agarwal, the 42-year-old who made the phone calls to the police chief to ask him to close the case against Aditya Kumar who, as senior superintendent of police Gaya, is alleged to have conspired with the liquor mafia. Kumar has been suspended.

The dubious phone calls were made to Singhal when proceedings were pending against him. The Gaya police, on directives from police headquarters, submitted a closure report in the case related to the case registered against Aditya Kumar by Fatehpur police station.

According to the four-page FIR, Abhishek Agarwal got a SIM card and used the chief justice’s photograph as the profile picture on WhatsApp before making the phone calls to Singhal.

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