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Letters to the Editor

Print edition : Dec 07, 2018 T+T-

RESPONSE:  From Archana Ramasundaram (Retired IPS, 1980, Tamil Nadu Cadre), New Delhi

THIS  is with reference to certain comments made by Shri Vineet Narain about me, as quoted by Ms T.K. Rajalakshmi in her Cover Story article titled “History of Abuse” (November 23). It is unfortunate that he has dragged my name unnecessarily into this. My appointment as Additional Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation was challenged by Shri Narain in a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in 2014 on account of some alleged flaw in the procedure followed by the Central government. The Supreme Court, in its interim order dated May 9, 2014, made it clear that it “shall not be construed as reflection on the competence or merit of the officer Smt. Archana Ramasundaram in any manner whatsoever” and limited its observations to the procedure of selection only. In contrast, the present controversy relates to allegations of corruption against certain CBI officials. This being the fact, Shri Narain should not have mentioned my name at all.

His allegation that there was “some political reasons for her appointment” is baseless and malicious. He has contradicted himself by stating that my appointment was defended by the next Central government as well. The fact that the Central government fielded the Attorney General of India (and not just the Additional Solicitor General, as mentioned by Shri Narain) to defend an appointment order issued by the previous government clearly shows that there was no political reason whatsoever in my appointment as Additional Director, CBI.

In my 37-year-long career in the Indian Police Service (IPS), no one has ever dared to question my integrity, performance or political neutrality. These remarks are unjust, unsubstantiated and defamatory in nature.

The truth of the matter is that I was the senior-most officer (in the panel of four names for the post of Additional Director, CBI) with an outstanding service record, including seven years in the CBI as Deputy Inspector General and Joint Director. But the selection committee, for reasons best known to its members, chose to recommend the junior-most officer in the panel. The CBI did not want to induct him due to his earlier bad record in the CBI. Even then, the selection committee insisted on recommending this junior-most officer. As the CBI opposed his selection, the government had to go for the senior-most official from the panel with an unblemished record and experience in the CBI. In view of my being the number one in the panel with rich experience in the CBI, I was appointed to this post. This was blown out of proportion in the media by certain mischievous elements.

I had suffered immensely for no fault of mine due to this litigation thrust on me. Not only did this cause acute mental anguish, it also hurt me professionally and financially. Finally, truth triumphed and I emerged from this crisis with my professional reputation intact. As I was already empanelled as Director General (DG) at the Centre, I had requested the Central government to post me to a DG-level post. Thereafter, I served as the DG, National Crime Records Bureau and later as the DG, Sashastra Seema Bal, with the distinction of being the first woman in India to head a paramilitary force. I retired in September 2017 on superannuation after a distinguished career in the IPS. At present, I am working as a member of a Ministry of Home Affairs committee. It is disappointing that that your magazine chose to publish Shri Narain’s version without checking the other side of the story.

The CBI imbroglio

THE prevailing mess and corruption in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is considered to be the worst of its kind in its history (Cover story, November 23). According to legal experts, the Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC) midnight order asking Alok Verma to go on leave, after divesting him of all his responsibilities, is illegal. The removal can only be decided by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition.

Furthermore, after a thorough probe, the inquiry committee led by the CVC and a retired Supreme Court judge has reportedly ruled out the involvement of Alok Verma in the issue relating to the corruption charges against him. One eagerly awaits the ruling of the apex court in this matter.

The need of the hour is to defuse the prevailing crisis in the CBI. One desires that the CBI be made a statutory body to enable it to function independently without much outside interference like the Election Commission of India.

Jayant Mukherjee, Kolkata

THE C entre’s midnight coup in packing off the top two officials of the CBI is not only unprecedented but also indicates the potential loss of the credibility and reputation of the premier investigation agency. Although the government in its defence has said that it only acted on the advice of the CVC, which has superintendence over the CBI in cases of corruption, its actions raised several eyebrows.

It is time the Prime Minister intervened and cleared the doubts that it is the government that has driven the two directors to wash their dirty linen in public in order to shield the corrupt from getting exposed.

K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad, Telangana

ON reading about the shenanigans in the CBI, one wonders when, if at all, a Hercules will come to clean the Aegean stables. Justice R.M. Lodha’s famous aphorism calling the CBI a caged parrot looks like a mild rebuke in the current context.

Successive governments unhesitatingly misused the CBI. But things have gone from bad to worse under the present dispensation, which has undermined other institutions of governance as well. The only hope now is that the apex court will intervene in the issue in a meaningful way.

Ayyasseri Raveendranath, Aranmula, Kerala

Khashoggi’s murder

THE gruesome murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul has shaken the world (“Riyadh’s mea culpa”, November 23). What is surprising is Israel’s request to the White House to be lenient with the Saudi government. Iran was also initially silent but later accused the United States of encouraging criminals. Turkey’s relentless pressure forced Saudi Arabia to acknowledge the murder and sack the top security services officials responsible for it. Will the culprits ever be punished and the brain behind this murder be exposed?

Bowing to global pressure, the Saudi authorities lifted the travel ban on Khashoggi’s family members and allowed them to fly to the U.S. Where the body of Khashoggi is remains a big mystery. The evidence of murder seems to have been covered up. We need a Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery.

Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai

Sardar Patel’s statue

WHAT Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled on October 31 is not a statue of the freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel but a Rs.3,000-crore monument to Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Mohan Bhagwat, V.D. Savarakar and Nathuram Godse (“Sardar as pawn”, November 23). In fact, Sardar Patel himself would have strongly disapproved of such a colossal waste of money. This fund should have been used for the construction of hospitals, schools and colleges for poor people for whom he gave up a lucrative career of law and plunged into the freedom movement.

In fact, it was Patel who banned the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh immediately after Gandhiji’s assassination. Patel was a totally secular-minded person, and yet today we see the paradox of the Sangh Parivar trying to appropriate Gandhiji and Patel into its pantheon of leaders whose numbers are abysmally few.

N.C. Sreedharan, Kannur, Kerala

Jawaharlal Nehru

THE photoessay on Jawaharlal Nehru is timely for it brings to the notice of the present generation, including Modi, the glorious life of Nehru and his manifold contribution to make India a vibrant secular democracy (“Architect of modern India”, November 23). The planned growth and development of India in diverse fields under his governance has been brought out vividly in this photoessay. The efforts taken by Nehru to heal the wounds of Partition have also been captured pictorially. I offer my deep appreciation of the efforts to present Nehru as a builder of modern India.

S.S. Rajagopalan, Chennai

FROM the very beginning of his prime ministership in 2014, Narendra Damodardas Modi has always made attempts to denigrate the first Prime Minister of free India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his legacy. Under such conditions, Frontline’s 16-page photoessay was a memorable gift to the aam aadmi.

On pages 104-105, the caption states: “August 15, 1947: Nehru hoists the national flag as the first Prime Minister of India at the Red Fort in Delhi.” Pandit Nehru not only unfurled the national flag for the first time on the ramparts of the Red Fort but also unfurled the flag atop the Red Fort 17 times, the maximum by any Prime Minister. In his first speech at Red Fort, Nehru referred to Netaji Subhas Bose’s call to “Challo Dilli” and his dream to hoist the “flag of freedom” atop Delhi’s Red Fort.

In fact, free India’s national flag was hoisted for the first time on the central dome of Viceregal Lodge (later renamed Rashtrapati Bhavan) after the new government took oath. On the afternoon of August 15, the first public flag salutation ceremony was held near the War Memorial Arch, later renamed India Gate.

The last photograph of the series, “Anand Bhawan, Allahabad, 1945: With daughter Indira Gandhi and grandson Rajiv, who was celebrating his first birthday”, is also the photograph of three Prime Ministers of India.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad, Haryana

Amritsar train tragedy

IT took less than a minute for a train to crush 62 persons to death and leave over 90 persons badly injured (“Blood on the tracks”, November 23). These revellers were out enjoying the fireworks as part of the Dussehra celebrations on the railway track or close to it to get a better view of the fireworks. The blame game is on to point out who is responsible for the tragic accident that snuffed out innocent lives. In fact, there was all-round failure—on the part of the police, the organisers and the Railways—to avert this disaster. It was sheer insensitivity on the part of the Union Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, to disclaim any responsibility for the accident. Belatedly, the Railways have instituted a commission of inquiry into the accident. The role of the engine driver, too, needs to be investigated, including his claim that he applied the brakes and whether his complaint of stone throwing was justified. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, rose to the occasion by taking part in relief operations, visiting patients in the hospitals and announcing monetary compensation for the families of the dead and the injured.

D.B.N. Murthy, Bengaluru