Lalu case rap only bump in 40-yr career of new CBI chief

Apart from the time he was posted as DIG, CBI, in Patna and accused of being soft on Lalu Prasad Yadav during his investigation into the fodder scam case, the country's seniormost IPS officer Ranjit Sinha has managed to keep himself away from controversies and maintained a low-profile during his 40 years in government service.

So when he got entangled in one of the most messy selection processes for the CBI director's post in recent times, there were not many who gave him much chance. He was considered a lightweight and not known to have the political backing.

However, it was the 1974-batch officer of Bihar cadre in whom the government finally reposed its faith for one of the most coveted and influential posts in the country. Currently the director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sinha will take charge at the CBI from A P Singh on December 3.

Born in Jamshedpur, Sinha qualified for the IPS at the young age of 21, the reason for his long service. He will have a fixed tenure of two years as CBI director.

During the fodder scam probe, Sinha was accused of being close to then chief minister Lalu Prasad. After a court expressed its unhappiness with the investigation, Sinha had to withdraw from the case. Being from the Bihar cadre, it was considered that he would not be able to do justice to a probe against the sitting Chief Minister.

The perceived proximity with Lalu got reinforced a decade later during the UPA-I regime, when the RJD chief, as the railway minister, kept the position of the head of the Railway Protection Force vacant for a few months till Sinha got empanelled as a DG and made it to the post. Sinha remained in the RPF till Lalu was the railway minister.

As head of the RPF, Sinha was credited with making significant improvements in the security systems at railway stations after the Mumbai terror attacks, in which the CST station was the biggest target. He also reinforced security on the rail link between the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys in Assam, where trains were regularly attacked by militant groups. A lifeline for Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram, the rail link was given bullet-proof trains. However, when Mamata Banerjee took over the Railway Ministry after the 2009 elections, Sinha was removed as the RPF DG.

With no immediate job available, he had to wait for a couple of months before being made the ITBP DG.

In the ITBP, Sinha's efforts in securing Indian installations in Afghanistan proved to be very effective.

The association with Lalu, in fact, has never bogged this IPS officer's career down even though the RJD supremo's fortunes have themselves taken a nosedive.

Sinha's appointment as the CBI director is a proof of that. It means that the government, which is extremely careful in these matters since the fiasco over the appointment of P J Thomas as the central vigilance commissioner, found nothing adverse against him.

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