Former Congress mayor R Sampath Raj was sent to two-day police custody after he was arrested on Monday night for instigating violence in parts of Bengaluru on August 11, which left four people dead. He was produced in a local court after being interrogated for hours by Central Crime Branch (CCB) officials in their headquarters.
Confirming the arrest, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil said, “Sampath Raj, an accused who was absconding since October 14 was arrested yesterday night. We have subjected him to a detailed interrogation.”
Patil said further questioning would continue after presenting Raj before a local court. “In the case that was transferred to the CCB, 53 accused have been arrested so far. Special teams were formed to arrest the absconding accused,” he said.
Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai called the arrest a “major development”. “He is an accused who had been absconding. Now that we’ve caught him, further probe will reveal the conspiracy and more people behind the same,” he said.
Karnataka Congress unit president DK Shivakumar accused the ruling BJP of “misusing” the law to defame his party. Speaking to reporters here, Shivakumar said, “Definitely this is an attempt to target Congress, where is the evidence to prove that Congress men are involved. I have also seen the chargesheet. They (BJP) are doing it, they have a tradition to trouble Congress leaders and they are at it,” he said.
Raj, who is currently the Congress corporator representing Devarajeevanahalli municipal ward, was named as an accused among others by the CCB in an interim charge sheet filed on October 12. The chargesheet mentioned that Raj was part of the conspiracy in the violence that saw Pulakeshinagar Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy’s house in Kaval Byrasandra being torched by a rampaging mob.
Further, according to the police, around 3,000 to 4,000 people also torched Devara Jeevanahalli and Kadugondanahalli police stations over an alleged inflammatory social media post by Murthy’s nephew Naveen. While three people were killed on August 11 night in police firing, another person had succumbed to injuries a few days later.
While Raj was interrogated by an investigating team led by ACP Venugopal earlier, he had cited Covid-19 treatment as a reason for not appearing when summoned for the second time. However, he was termed “absconding” by the CCB team on realising that he had left the hospital earlier in October without informing the police.
The development comes days after the CCB team arrested Raj’s close aide Riyazuddin for harbouring the accused. “We got information that Riyazuddin had taken both Raj and Abdul Rakeeb Zakir (Pulkeshingar ward Congress corporator) to a farm in Nagarhole a few days ago. On reaching the spot, Riyazuddin was arrested from the same farm,” an officer had said.
Following the mysterious disappearance of Raj, the High Court had recently directed the CCB to take all the measures to arrest him.
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