Border Security Force will get a full-time director general after five months with Rakesh Asthana, Gujarat cadre IPS officer, being appointed as chief of the border guarding force, weeks after Chinese aggression at the line of actual control and Pakistani build up at the line of control.
Asthana, 1984 batch officer, will return to the CGO complex in New Delhi after his exit from the CBI in October 2018.
Both the CBI headquarter and the BSF headquarter are located in CGO complex, a stone’s throw away from each other.
Asthana’s stint at the CBI as a special director had ended amid conflict with the then director Alok Verma. As the top two officers of the country’s premier investigation agency had accused each other of corruption, the government decided to transfer both of them.
Verma was sent as DG fire services, a post he refused to take charge of, citing his retirement. While Asthana was appointed director general of bureau of civil aviation and narcotics control bureau.
Interestingly, Asthana continues to lead the narcotics control bureau, where a lot of drug seizures have happened across the country ever since he took charge. Considering that most of drug trade happens across the border, his role as BSF and narcotics control bureau chief could give a new dimension to India’s war against drugs.
The history teacher-turned-IPS officer has throughout his career dealt with high-profile political cases.
Asthana’s father was a biology teacher at Netarhat Residential School, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in undivided Bihar. Asthana, too, finished his schooling from there and then moved to St. John’s College, Agra and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
He returned to St Xavier’s, Ranchi to teach history for a brief period before cracking the civil services in his first attempt in 1984. He moved to Gujarat after getting the cadre and returned to Bihar/Jharkhand as a CBI SP in the Dhanbad branch, which was given the task to probe the fodder scam.
Asthana had led investigations in Purulia arms drop case but he shot to fame as CBI SP who probed the fodder scam against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
His refusal to give in to pressure and summon Yadav, question him for hours, before chargesheeting him was acknowledged by then CBI joint director Upen Biswas.
In 2002, Asthana headed the SIT which probed the Godhra train burning case and called it a ‘pre-meditated conspiracy’.
Asthana served as Surat police commissioner a few years later where the investigation and arrest of Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai became a national story.
His stint at the CBI led to success in a number of high-profile cases. During his tenure, Asthana probed the Augusta Westland scam and the INX media case, in which Congress leaders P Chidambaram and his son Karti are accused. He headed successful CBI probe against Vijay Mallya, leading to India’s victory in the UK High Court.
The post of BSF chief was lying vacant since March 2020 after incumbent VK Johri was called back by then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath and appointed as the state DGP. ITBP DG SS Deswal had been handling BSF as an additional charge since then.