New Delhi: Sources in the Intelligence Bureau on Thursday admitted that the four men who were caught “loitering” outside Verma’s residence  — in one of Delhi’s most high-security zones by the latter’s security personnel — belonged to the agency but denied charges of ‘snooping’ by them.

The four men, allegedly lurking around the exiled CBI chief’s residence, were dragged by their collars and taken inside the premises by Verma’s security personnel, showed a video posted by ANI.

Sources said the four men, who were stationed outside Verma’s 2, Janpath residence since Wednesday night, were questioned and then taken away by police. However, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma denied that they had detained the four men and was questioning them.

The four men were reportedly found with the identity cards of Intelligence Bureau.

While IB sources admitted that the four men were agency’s officials, they denied any “snooping” by its officers, asserting that Janpath Road is a high-profile area and that their presence was projected otherwise.

They added that one of the IB’s unit halted at the Janpath when they saw an “unusual collection of people”.

IB sources said the agency is entrusted with the responsibility of collecting intelligence on situations that may affect, inter alia, public order and internal security.

“Among other things, its units are routinely deployed on a regular basis in sensitive areas. At times, this is done in association with local law enforcement agencies and at other times, a surprise element is also built in. This also enables LEAs to respond immediately to developing situations,” the sources said.

Since such officials are on routine duties, they carry their identity cards. This is unlike surveillance which is done covertly, without any visible appurtenances, they added.

“One such unit, in early hours of today, halted on Janpath, where there was an unusual collection of people. This was with a view to check the reason why people had collected at the location. This is a high-security zone where several protectees reside. Unfortunately, their presence was projected otherwise,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Verma’s PSOs might face action for manhandling the four reported IB officials. Times of India quoted a senior official saying that in case of any suspicious movement, the police should have been informed first.

Verma, who has embroiled in a standoff with Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the past few days with the two accusing each other of corruption, was stripped off his powers and replaced by an Interim Director on Wednesday.

Verma, who was heading the probe in Medical Council of India bribery case and the sterling biotech case among others, has challenged his removal in the Supreme Court.

Verma contended before the top court that divesting him of his powers “overnight” amounted to interference in the independence of the agency.

He said as the CBI was expected to function completely independently and autonomously, there were bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries did not take the direction that may be desirable to the government.