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    Rafale Deal Takes Center Stage in Intense Infighting in India’s Top Probe Agency

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    Rahul Gandhi, President of India’s main opposition party Indian National Congress has alleged that the head of the country’s top investigating agency, the CBI, was removed from his post because he was raising questions over the Rafale fighter jet deal. CBI plays a similar role as that of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    The Indian government has ordered a probe against the country's top investigative agency after two of its most senior officers accused each other of bribery and interference in police investigations. The government has placed Alok Verma, director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and special director, Rakesh Asthana, on leave days after the agency filed a case against Asthana.

    After a cabinet meeting in the morning on Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that a special investigative team will probe the allegations leveled by Verma and Asthana against each other.

    "To maintain the institutional integrity, the officers under the cloud must stand out, as an interim measure," Jaitley told reporters.

    The CBI has just started a probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal on the complaint filed on October 12 with the agency by three prominent persons including the country's former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been named as an accused along with the then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar in the complaint. Complainants have accused Modi of favoring private firm Reliance Defence in the $8.7 billion deal involving the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France under a government to government contract.

    Sources told Sputnik that Alok Verma had started summoning some defense ministry officials with documents related to the Rafale fighter jet deal.

    The agency is also investigating the $2 billion fraud at Punjab National Bank involving fugitive diamond billionaire Nirav Modi, and loan defaults by liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

    READ MORE: Diamond Merchant Allegedly Defrauds India's Second Largest Bank Out of $1.8 Bln

    Meanwhile, Verma has approached the country's apex court petitioning his removal from the post of director of the agency and claimed that the decision is contrary to section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which grants secure term of 2 years to CBI chief in order to ensure independence.

    The government, on its part, has defended its move of removing Verma by arguing that ''Director CBI did not cooperate in making files/records sought by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) relating to serious allegations…Despite repeated reminders, he failed to furnish the records before the Commission."

    Related:

    India to Station Rafale Jets Within Strike Range of China and Pakistan
    India Wants 36 More French-Made Rafale Fighter Jets
    French Defense Minister Set to Garner New Contract for Rafale Jets in India
    India's Opposition Smells Rat in Rafale Deal
    Tags:
    corruption charges, political infighting, investigations, allegations, India's Central Bureau of Investigation, Dassault Aviation, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi, India
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