The tough cop who loved Tom and Jerry
New Delhi, Oct 08: He loved Tom and Jerry and, in fact, likened his work to the cat and mouse games of the famed cartoon characters. Former CBI chief Ashwani Kumar was found hanging at his Shimla residence on Wednesday - the tragic finis to the remarkable life of a man with a ready smile who was always passionate about his work.
Kumar, who also served as Nagaland governor, was 69 and is survived by his wife and son. His former colleagues and even present officers remember him as the perfect soft-spoken gentleman with a gentle smile.
The 1973-batch IPS officer was a surprise announcement for the post of the director of the premier investigating agency in August 2008. Two other names, both senior to him, were doing the rounds for the prestigious posting. This was also the time when the agency was grappling with controversies surrounding the Aarushi murder case.
"I like Tom and Jerry cartoon show. Police is like the cat while the criminals are like mice. So Tom never leaves Jerry," Kumar had said in an interview to PTI 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 expressed his displeasure over the probe into the twin murders of Noida schoolgirl Aarushi Talwar, the daughter of dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, and the family's domestic help Hemraj.
The sensational twin murders had the nation agog and Kumar had taken it upon himself to take the investigation it to a logical conclusion.
"This case is a litmus test for me. I need to know who killed Aarushi -- parents or someone else. I feel agitated over this case," he had said.
During his tenure, a closure report was prepared. 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.
Kumar, a recipient of the President's Police medal for meritorious and distinguished services, had served as joint director (north) and additional director (anti-corruption) in the CBI. Besides, he had a stint in the Special Protection Group.
"A man of integrity and honesty who was always smiling in trying conditions. I am shocked," recalled former CBI director P C Sharma. Kumar served under him as the joint director (policy), a post within the CBI which is a bridge between the government and the agency.
During his stint as the CBI director, Kumar laid special focus on the growing economic offences and roped in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to help the agency in probing white collar crimes.
Hailing from the small town of Nahan in Himachal Pradesh, Kumar also served as director general of police of his home state and is remembered for ordering the removal of all barriers and checkposts that caused long traffic jams in the state.
In 2013, the then UPA government appointed him as governor of Nagaland, a post from which he tendered his resignation after the BJP-led NDA government came to power in 2014. He was the first CBI director to have been appointed to the post of governor as he was considered close to the then power corridors.
An avid lover of devotional music and ghazals, Kumar had taken to academics and was teaching for a while at the O P Jindal University in Haryana.