Amid the raging battle of attrition between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma and its special director and second in- command Rakesh Asthana, the agency on Monday arrested its deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar in connection with an alleged bribery case against Asthana.

Stung by the unprecedented intra-agency war involving the CBI’s top brass, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have stepped in, summoning the two top CBI officers to seek details of the situation.

The CBI director apparently met the Prime Minister yesterday.

Kumar, who was earlier the investigation officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested by the CBI for alleged forgery in recording the statement of a businessman Sathish Sana, who had alleged to have paid bribes to get relief in the Qureshi case, agency officials said.

The agency carried out searches at his office and residence on Sunday evening and claimed to have recovered mobile phones and iPad that were being analysed, the officials said.

They claimed that a statement of Sana was allegedly recorded on 26 September 2018 in Delhi by an investigation team headed by Asthana, even as it emerged in the agency’s probe that on that day the businessman was in Hyderabad.

In the statement, Sana had purportedly said that he had in June 2018 discussed his case with the TDP’s Rajya Sabha MP C M Ramesh who, after speaking to the CBI director, had assured him that he would not be summoned again.

“From June onwards, I was not called by the CBI. I was under the impression that investigation against me is complete,” the Hyderabad- based businessman’s purported statement said.

The CBI has charged that Kumar had allegedly fabricated this statement as an “afterthought…to corroborate the baseless allegations made by Asthana against CBI director Alok Verma to the CVC (Central Vigilance Commissioner)”.

Officials said the agency was also probing the alleged role of other members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Asthana, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, in the case.

The CBI’s SIT is handling some crucial cases such as the Agusta Westland chopper scam, the bank loan fraud involving fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, and the Qureshi case.

Upping the ante earlier, the CBI filed an FIR against Asthana, Kumar and others including some middlemen for allegedly receiving bribes to give relief to Sana in the Qureshi case.

The CBI’s unprecedented move against its number two officer came two months after Asthana wrote to Cabinet Secretary on 24 August to allege that Sana had given a bribe of Rs 2 crore to the CBI director to get relief in the case. The CVC is reportedly looking into his allegations against his boss.