MHA said the four men were on 'routine, covert' duties in the high security area.
A row erupted as four Intelligence Bureau personnel were “picked up” by police on Thursday after they were found outside the official residence of Central Bureau of Investigation director Alok Verma, with the Congress accusing the government of snooping on him, a charge rejected by the home ministry which said they were on “routine covert” duties in a high security zone where several “protectees” reside.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said they had received a call about a fight from the CBI director’s residence, and after verification, the IB personnel were let off.
Earlier, police sources had claimed that the personnel were “picked up” by them and questioned.
But the DCP denied that the personnel had been detained and questioned.
Alok Verma has been divested of his powers and sent on leave on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission following allegations of corruption.
Latching onto the incident, Congress leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge and senior leader Abhishek Singhvi alleged that the Intelligence Bureau was “snooping” on an “officer who was about to unravel the murky dealings in the Rafale scam”.
“‘Big Brother Syndrome’ is the prime modus operandi by a government which has utterly lost the plot,” the two leaders alleged in a statement.
However, home ministry officials said that the IB unit had halted at the spot to check on “an unusual collection of people” as part of their “routine” duty in sensitive areas and added that it was unfortunate that their presence was projected otherwise.
The IB is entrusted with the responsibility of collecting intelligence on situations that may affect public order and internal security. Among other things, its units are “routinely” deployed in “sensitive areas”, a home ministry official said.
At times, this is done in association with local law enforcement agencies, and at other times, a surprise element is built in, he added.
This also enables law enforcement agencies to respond immediately to developing situations. The officials carry their identity cards since they are on “routine duties”, he explained.
“This is unlike surveillance, which is done without any visible appurtenances. One unit, in the early hours of today, halted at Janpath where there was an unusual collection of people,” the official said.
This was with a view to check why people had collected at the location. “This is a high security zone where several protectees reside. Unfortunately, their presence was projected otherwise,” another official said.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar live near the CBI director’s official residence.
A police official, requesting anonymity, said the local police was informed about a fight at Alok Verma’s residence and they had rushed to the spot.
The official said a constable entrusted with security duty at the CBI director’s residence had informed about a quarrel at 8.15 am and when the police reached the house, the IB officers were found there.
They furnished their ID cards and informed the police they were on regular patrol duty since it is a high security zone. The police then took them from Alok Verma’s residence and let them off, the official added.
In an unprecedented shake-up in the CBI’s 55-year-history, both Alok Verma and his deputy, Special Director Rakesh Asthana, were divested of their powers and sent on leave in a dramatic overnight action by the government Tuesday night.
Verma knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court Wednesday, challenging the government’s decision. The apex court agreed to hear his plea on Friday.