Former CBI director Ashwani Kumar, who led the Aarushi murder investigation, was found dead at his residence in Shimla on Wednesday. Officials suspect he died by suicide. The body of Kumar (69), a 1973-batch IPS officer, was found at his residence in Brockhurst, near Chhota Shimla, in the evening, they added.
"We recovered a suicide note, in which he had written he is embarking on a new journey. His family members were present when he went inside the room, locked it and died by suicide. The family does not suspect any foul play. We have seized the items in the room. The post-mortem will be conducted on Thursday morning," the HImchal Pradesh DGP told PTI.
One of his neighbours told PTI that Kumar had gone for his evening walk as usual. After returning home, he went to the attic. The body was first found by a family member, who went to the attic to call Kumar for dinner, the neighbour said. 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.
A resident of Nahan in Himachal Pradesh, Kumar became the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2008, succeeding Vijay Shanker in the midst of the agency's probe into the Aarushi Talwar murder case, which was hogging media headlines.
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 case.
He had also served in the Special Protection Group (SPG) elite force, which primarily guards the prime minister, and was appointed as the Governor of Nagaland in 2013 by the UPA government, officials said.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
A former DGP of Himachal Pradesh, Kumar was presently the vice chancellor of a private university in Shimla, they added. Kumar had also taken to academics and was teaching for a while at the OP Jindal University in Haryana.