Senior IPS officer M Nageshwar Rao, 1986-batch Odisha cadre officer’s midnight appointment came following government’s decision to sent incumbent Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana on leave as they put the premier investigating agency in an unprecedented credibility crisis.
The decision to appoint Joint Director Rao, a post-graduate in chemistry from Osmania University who also did research in IIT-Madras, as the interim chief also showed that the government decided to overlook his three seniors in Additional Director rank, including A K Verma who is accused by Asthana of wrongdoing.
Rao, who hails from Warangal district of Telangana, had worked in Odisha in several capacities and was brought to Delhi CBI headquarters while he was working as Joint Director of CBI Southern Zone in Chennai.
As Joint Director in headquarters, he was in charge of several states including Odisha, West Bengal, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. He was also monitoring fund scams and Saradha scam.
In Odisha, he was credited for using the DNA fingerprinting technique in crime investigation in 1996 while investigating a rape case in Jagatsinghpur. He was Superintendent of Police in Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Bargarh and Jagatsinghpur as well as Crime Branch.
During his tenure in CRPF, his anti-insurgency work in Manipur, as well as leadership in anti-naxal operations in West Bengal’s Lalgarh, earned him praise. He was also instrumental in the setting up of the elite CoBRA Battalion of CRPF.
However, his appointment also invited criticism with all opposition leaders and senior lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan taking to Twitter to point fingers at the government decision.
Sharing a web link of a report that accused Rao of abuse of power and corruption, Bhushan tweeted, “read this detailed & documented story on Nageshwar Rao appointed as acting Director CBI by illegally removing the present Director. See how Rao protected the corrupt and his dubious assets.”