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Top RAW officer named in Rakesh Asthana FIR is frontrunner for Punjab police chief job

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CBI FIR says Samant Goel ‘knew’ middleman Somesh Prasad through whom Rakesh Asthana was allegedly gathering bribes.

Chandigarh: Punjab cadre IPS officer Samant Goel, whose name features in the CBI FIR against the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana, is among the top contenders for the post of Punjab DGP.

The naming of Goel drags RAW into the CBI war as he is currently posted as a special secretary in the external intelligence agency.

The CBI FIR states that Goel “knew” middleman Somesh Prasad through whom Asthana was allegedly gathering bribes being sent by Satish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman. Till his mention in the FIR, Goel was considered to be largely non-controversial.

Goel, a 1984-batch officer, is the senior-most IPS officer in Punjab after current DGP Suresh Arora, who retired on 30 September. Arora is on a three-month extension.


Also read: Modi has been fixated with IPS officers and that’s hurt him badly


Goel, however, has been out of Punjab since 2001 on a permanent secondment basis. He was promoted to the DGP rank at the Centre last year while he was promoted to DGP rank in Punjab in 2015.

A commerce graduate and a lawyer, Goel has also been seen as pitching himself for RAW’s top post, and it is believed that heading Punjab as chief would only interest him if his chances to take over at the RAW fade.

Goel had met Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in New Delhi last month.

Punjab contenders

How the situation changes for Goel after the recent developments is anybody’s guess, but many in Punjab would be happy to see Goel out of the race in the state. The top-heavy Punjab Police is already in the midst of a fratricidal battle for the all-powerful DGP post.

Those in the pecking order after Goel are 1985-batch officers Mohammed Mustafa and Hardeep Singh Dhillon.

Mustafa was recently made the head of the special task force on drug control, a move seen as a placatory gesture in case he misses out on the DGP post. His wife Razia Sultana is a minister in the Amarinder cabinet. Mustafa is due to retire in 2021 and cannot be considered out of the reckoning.

Dhillon is set to retire within the next year and does not have the mandatory 12 months of service left to be considered for the post.

The officers next in line are Jasminder Singh and Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, both from the 1986 batch. While Jasminder is also due to retire next year, Chattopadhyaya has service till 2022.

But Chattopadhyaya is perceived to have “upset” the chief minister when, in April, he told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that Arora and another DGP-level officer Dinkar Gupta were “involved” in a drug case, which the court had asked him to investigate. The chief minister was livid and issued a barely-veiled warning to “officers” stepping out of line.


Also read: All you wanted to know about the war in CBI between Rakesh Asthana and Alok Verma


Chattopadhyaya is also facing an inquiry into his alleged role in the suicide of an Amritsar-based businessman. The high court has stayed the investigation into his role in the case.

Gupta, a 1987-batch officer and at present the state’s intelligence chief is also in running for the post, with Arora reportedly putting his weight behind him.

Chattopadhyaya and Gupta are considered to be at loggerheads. While Chattopadhyaya was shifted from being the DGP (HRD) to a sidelined post of DGP, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited, Gupta enjoys the confidence of the CM.

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