Bhandari, who was heading the Crime Investigation Department (CID) when the illegal phone tapping took place during the previous BJP regime, appeared before the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau here for the first time on Wednesday.

"Questions relating to tapping of phones and the motive behind recording the conversations were asked," a police official said.

A first information report (FIR) relating to the tapping of over 1,300 telephones was registered on June 26 last year. But no one has been named in the FIR so far.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh recently said that the inquiry into the phone tapping is near completion and the ‘challan’ (registration) will be filed soon in the court. Earlier, the vigilance bureau sent a questionnaire to then director general of police DS Manhas.

"We got the reply. If needed, Manhas will also be summoned," said the investigating official, who didn't wish to be identified.

The present Congress government has accused Prem Kumar Dhumal-led Bharatiya Janata Party government of tapping certain telephone numbers illegally through the criminal investigation and vigilance departments.

Dhumal, however, has refuted the charges. The total number of phones tapped, mainly of Congress leaders, government functionaries and journalists in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act, was over 1,300, said officials. Of these, the home department had granted permission to tap only 170 phones, they said.

Virbhadra Singh also accused the previous government of tapping his phones and bugging his rooms.

"While Dhumal was the chief minister, he was helped by then director general of police DS Manhas, his successor ID Bhandari and some other police officials," the Chief Minister alleged.

Bhandari, who belongs to the 1982 Indian Police Service cadre and is currently posted as Director General of Home Guards and Fire Services, was removed from the top post in February last year.


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