October 8, 2020 10:16:19 pm
Former CBI director Ashwani Kumar was cremated with full state honours in the presence of family and friends at Chalaunthi Thursday, a day after he was found hanging at his residence in Chhota Shimla.
The 70-year-old, who also served as Nagaland governor and led the investigation into the Aarushi Talwar murder case, left behind a note saying he was “embarking on a new journey”. The pyre was lit by his son Abhishek. Senior politicians, including Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary and Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, and Himachal DGP Sanjay Kundu were among those present.
In a letter written to his wife Chanda Kumar, President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his condolences and praised Kumar’s professional qualities. “In his long career in the Indian Police Service (IPS), he distinguished himself as an officer known for his professionalism, competence and integrity that earned him well-deserving President’s Medal with which he was decorated in 1999. His qualities of an able administrator came to the fore again when he served as the Governor of Nagaland and Manipur,” said Kovind in his letter.
Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatraya, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Nagaland Governor RN Ravi, among others, also expressed condolences.
In Delhi, the CBI held a condolence meeting for Kumar. “Our heartfelt emotions are with the bereaved family in this moment of profound tragedy. May his soul rest in peace,” CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla said.
In a statement, the agency said it is deeply saddened to hear the demise of Kumar.
On Thursday, after the mandatory medical examination of the body, authorities at a city hospital preserved a viscera sample for a final medical report and then handed his mortal remains to the family for the last rites, officials said.
A preliminary probe indicates that a sudden change in his active life over the last six months – India went into lockdown in March to curb the spread of Covid-19 — could be a probable reason behind the drastic move but police are looking into all probabilities, they said.
The 1973-batch IPS officer was found hanging at his residence in Brockhurst near Chhota Shimla Wednesday evening. “I am ending my life. Everyone be happy. My soul is embarking on a new journey,” said Kumar’s suicide note according to DGP Sanjay Kundu.
The police said that no foul play is suspected in the incident as there were no signs of forced entry into the house, and Kumar’s family was present in the house during the day. The family members have identified the handwriting in the note as Kumar’s, and the note itself did not blame any person for the decision of the victim, said a police official.
Shimla SP Mohit Chawla said that the suicide note and statements of the family indicated an element of depression behind Kumar’s suicide.
Inquest proceedings into the incident are being carried out by the police under section 174 of the CrPC.
Kumar, who belonged to Nahan in Himachal’s Sirmaur district, joined the IPS in 1973 and was posted as an SP in Shimla, Solan, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, before being inducted into the Special Protection Group (SPG) responsible for the security of the prime minister.
He became the Himachal DGP in 2006 and the director of CBI in 2008, succeeding Vijay Shanker in the midst of the agency’s probe into the Aarushi Talwar murder case, which was hogging media headlines.
“I like Tom and Jerry… Police is like the cat while the criminals are mice. So Tom never leaves Jerry,” Kumar had said in 2008 after taking over as CBI director. “I am in the game of Tom and Jerry and I have to do my job,” he said.
Kumar had taken it upon himself to take the investigation into the sensational twin murders to a logical conclusion. “This case is a litmus test for me. I need to know who killed Aarushi,” he had said.
A closure report was prepared during his tenure as CBI chief. This later formed the basis of the arrests and conviction of Aarushi’s parents. Both the parents are now out on bail and the case is being heard in higher courts.
In 2013, he became the Governor of Nagaland, with an additional charge of Manipur, but resigned in July 2014. Kumar had a PhD in Management from the HP University and was a visiting faculty to several institutions of higher learning.
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