90-minute grilling involved his meetings with Mahesh Kumar, latter’s association with his nephew Vijay Singla

Former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for over six hours here on Tuesday to ascertain his role, if any, in the alleged cash-for-post case involving his nephew.

Mr. Bansal arrived at the Jamnagar House office of CBI on Akbar Road around 11 a.m. He was confronted with a questionnaire on the basis of the evidence collected by them following the arrest of his nephew Vijay Singla and Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar besides others. Mr. Singla had allegedly received Rs. 10 crore as bribe for appointing Mr. Kumar as Railway Board Member (Electrical).

The questioning continued following a 90-minute lunch break and it concluded around 6.45 p.m. CBI sources said the officials asked Mr. Bansal about his meetings with Mr. Kumar and on his association with his nephew. Mr. Bansal, who refuted all charges and denied his involvement, was also asked about Mr. Kumar’s recent promotion and how the additional charge of General Manager (West) was retained by him even after the promotion.

The CBI has phone intercepts revealing that Mr. Singla had on some occasions conveyed to Mr. Kumar an assurance given by one “MR” that his job would be done. However, investigations have so far not revealed any direct evidence to suggest Mr. Bansal’s role in the case. “When the arrests were made, the file pertaining to Mr. Kumar’s appointment as Railway Board Member (Electrical) had not moved. Hence, we cannot make any presumptions. No irregularities in his promotion have been detected yet. He is a witness for us at this stage,” said a senior CBI official, adding that if required Mr. Bansal will again be approached for clarifications.

While the agency is probing to ascertain whether a disproportionate assets case is made out against Mr. Kumar, it has also zeroed in on Mr. Bansal’s former personal secretary Rahul Bhandari for his suspected involvement. The CBI had earlier questioned Mr. Bhandari for clues to a larger conspiracy.

As Mr. Kumar wanted an additional charge of General Manager (Western Railway and Signal and Telecommunication) for the time being, Mr. Singla had allegedly demanded an immediate payment of Rs. 90 lakh.

However, the CBI got a whiff of the conspiracy through phone tapping and laid a trap that resulted in the arrest of Mr. Singla, his accomplices and conduits in Chandigarh on May 3. Subsequently, Mr. Kumar and his accomplices were also arrested.

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