Intelligence Agency RAW Drawn Into The CBI War

Rakesh Asthana has written to the government, listing several charges against his boss Alok Verma.

New Delhi: 

The country’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing or RAW, appears to have been dragged into the massive controversy that has gripped the Central Bureau of Investigation, where a fight between two top officers is on.

Over the last two days, the CBI has been witnessing letters, raids and arrests – part of the battle between the agency chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.

The CBI has filed a bribery case against Rakesh Asthana — a Gujarat officer dubbed “the PM’s blue-eyed boy” by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. Mr Asthana has written to the government, listing several charges against his boss Alok Verma.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to both Mr Verma and Mr Asthana. There are reports that he also spoke to the RAW chief Anil Dasmana, since the investigation now covers his officers as well. No details, however, were available. No one from the agency commented on the issue either.

The RAW got drawn in after its senior officer, Samant Goel, was mentioned in the First Information Report or FIR against Rakesh Asthana. Mr Goel is a Special Secretary and is number four in the agency hierarchy.

The FIR is based on the sole testimony of Satish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman being probed for his role in the money laundering case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Sathish Sana has alleged that he was asked to pay a bribe of Rs. 5 crore to Mr Asthana to be spared.

The CBI says Sathish Sana told a magistrate that he had paid Rs. 2 crore as bribe to Mr Asthana over a 10 month period from December last year. The FIR says the middleman through whom Rs. 3 crore bribe was paid, Somesh Prasad, claimed he “knew Samant Goel”.

Somesh Prasad and his brother Manoj Prasad are sons of another RAW official – Deveshwar Prasad, who retired from RAW in 2000 as a director.

The brothers – investment bankers in Dubai – are accused of being conduits for the Rs 3 crore bribe allegedly paid to Mr Rakesh Asthana.

While Manoj Prasad is in CBI custody, Somesh Prasad is on the run.

Somesh Prasad’s father-in-law Sunil Mittal is also named in the First Information Report as the person who collected money from Satish Sana meant to be paid to Mr Asthana at the Delhi Press Club.

Manoj Prasad’s Facebook profile shows the former RAW official’s son is a well-connected man socially.

He is photographed with people like yoga teacher Ramdev, film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar, former diplomats and other government officials.

“He was at every party in Dubai, so we just knew him socially,” a businessman who was photographed with him, told NDTV.

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