Key post

Modi wants CBI to hand over sensitive division to officer with controversial past

Arun Kumar Sharma's name has been associated with the Ishrat Jahan encounter killing as well as Snoopgate.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is under pressure to hand over its highly sensitive Policy Division to the Gujarat police official whose name featured in the Ishrat Jahan encounter as well as the case involving the alleged spying on a woman architect when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state, highly placed officials said.

Arun Kumar Sharma, an India Police Service officer from the 1987 batch, was transferred to the CBI as one of its joint directors in April. But he is yet to be given any charge.

According to highly placed officials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a clear signal to the CBI that Sharma should be given the charge of the Policy Division. But CBI director Anil Sinha, who is opposed to the idea, has refused to do this.

The CBI insiders see in Modi’s move an attempt to establish a direct channel with the supposedly autonomous investigative agency. “For a Prime Minister who has established his own direct link in different ministries through the secretary and joint secretary level officials bypassing ministers, it is only natural to try opening up a direct channel with the CBI bypassing its director,” said a CBI official.

Key functions

The Policy Division deals with all matters relating to policy, organisation, vigilance and security in the CBI, correspondence and liaison with the Prime Minister’s Office and government ministries, and implementing special programmes related to vigilance and anti-corruption. It is so important that the joint director in charge of this division is seen as the number two in the investigative agency. The JDP, as the joint director in-charge of the Policy Division is referred to, participates in high-level meetings with government ministries along with the CBI director.

At present, this division is under CBI joint director RS Bhatti, an IPS officer of the 1990 batch.  Both CBI Director Anil Sinha and Bhatti belong to the Bihar cadre.

“The Policy Division is so significant that only a joint director with some experience in the agency gets charge of it,” a senior CBI official said. "Sharma has never been to the CBI. Besides, his name has cropped up in some controversial cases. Questions would be raised if he is put in charge of the Policy Division."

Encounter case

Sharma’s name had appeared on a CD purporting to contain details of discussions between top Gujarat leaders and police officials to derail the investigations into the Gujarat police killing of Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan in 2004. They claimed that she and the three men shot dead with her were on their way to Gujarat to kill Modi. The CD, which was submitted to the CBI by chargesheeted police officer GL Singhal, contained details of a meeting between Modi’s personal secretary GC Murmu, Sharma and a few other Gujarat ministers and policemen.

Sharma also featured in the claimed operation to illegally snoop on a young woman architect from Bangalore in 2009. The snooping had reportedly been ordered by minister of state for home Amit Shah for his “saheb”. Neither Amit Shah nor any of the police officials involved in the snooping operation has come out to explain who this “sahib” is.

According to a senior BJP official in Gujarat, Sharma was very close to Modi when he was the state chief minister. Before being appointed as the CBI joint director in April, he headed Ahmadabad Detection of Crime Branch as special commissioner, a post created for the first time.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Virat Kohli and Ola come together to improve Delhi's air quality

The onus of curbing air-pollution is on citizens as well

A recent study by The Lancet Journal revealed that outdoor pollution was responsible for 6% of the total disease burden in India in 2016. As a thick smog hangs low over Delhi, leaving its residents gasping for air, the pressure is on the government to implement SOS measures to curb the issue as well as introduce long-term measures to improve the air quality of the state. Other major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata should also acknowledge the gravitas of the situation.

The urgency of the air-pollution crisis in the country’s capital is being reflected on social media as well. A recent tweet by Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, urged his fans to do their bit in helping the city fight pollution. Along with the tweet, Kohli shared a video in which he emphasized that curbing pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Apart from advocating collective effort, Virat Kohli’s tweet also urged people to use buses, metros and Ola share to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility, ride sharing app Ola responded with the following tweet.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight the problem of vehicular pollution and congestion, Ola is launching #ShareWednesdays : For every ​new user who switches to #OlaShare in Delhi, their ride will be free. The offer by Ola that encourages people to share resources serves as an example of mobility solutions that can reduce the damage done by vehicular pollution. This is the fourth leg of Ola’s year-long campaign, #FarakPadtaHai, to raise awareness for congestion and pollution issues and encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

In 2016, WHO disclosed 10 Indian cities that made it on the list of worlds’ most polluted. The situation necessitates us to draw from experiences and best practices around the world to keep a check on air-pollution. For instance, a system of congestion fees which drivers have to pay when entering central urban areas was introduced in Singapore, Oslo and London and has been effective in reducing vehicular-pollution. The concept of “high occupancy vehicle” or car-pool lane, implemented extensively across the US, functions on the principle of moving more people in fewer cars, thereby reducing congestion. The use of public transport to reduce air-pollution is another widely accepted solution resulting in fewer vehicles on the road. Many communities across the world are embracing a culture of sustainable transportation by investing in bike lanes and maintenance of public transport. Even large corporations are doing their bit to reduce vehicular pollution. For instance, as a participant of the Voluntary Traffic Demand Management project in Beijing, Lenovo encourages its employees to adopt green commuting like biking, carpooling or even working from home. 18 companies in Sao Paulo executed a pilot program aimed at reducing congestion by helping people explore options such as staggering their hours, telecommuting or carpooling. After the pilot, drive-alone rates dropped from 45-51% to 27-35%.

It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the growth of a country doesn’t compromise the natural environment that sustains it, however, a substantial amount of responsibility also lies on each citizen to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle. Simple lifestyle changes such as being cautious about usage of electricity, using public transport, or choosing locally sourced food can help reduce your carbon footprint, the collective impact of which is great for the environment.

Ola is committed to reducing the impact of vehicular pollution on the environment by enabling and encouraging shared rides and greener mobility. They have also created flat fare zones across Delhi-NCR on Ola Share to make more environment friendly shared rides also more pocket-friendly. To ensure a larger impact, the company also took up initiatives with City Traffic Police departments, colleges, corporate parks and metro rail stations.

Join the fight against air-pollution by using the hashtag #FarakPadtaHai and download Ola to share your next ride.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Ola and not by the Scroll editorial team.