Karnataka phone-tapping row: BJP leaders seek Kumaraswamy apology, he denies any rolehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/karnataka-phone-tapping-row-bjp-leaders-seek-kumaraswamy-apology-he-denies-any-role-6042776/

Karnataka phone-tapping row: BJP leaders seek Kumaraswamy apology, he denies any role

The CBI is currently investigating several police officers in connection with the matter.

HD Kumaraswamy.

A war of words has broken out between the ruling BJP and the Opposition JDS in Karnataka after an inquiry ordered by the state government found that the cellphone of the pontiff of Adichunchungiri Mutt, who is influential among the Vokkaliga community, was tapped when H D Kumaraswamy, also a Vokkaliga, was Chief Minister in the Congress-JDS government.

Some BJP leaders have sought an apology from Kumaraswamy who has claimed that his name has been “unnecessarily’’ linked to the tapping.

“The reports of the tapping of the phone of the Adichunchungiri Swami and the statements of political leaders has caused unbearable pain in my heart. Moreover, the anguish this has caused the Swamiji has only aggravated my pain,’’ Kumaraswamy said on social media.

A probe ordered by the BJP government into the alleged tapping of phones of political leaders and others between August 2018 to August 2019 — when Kumaraswamy was chief minister — found that the phone of Nirmalananda Swami was tapped by the police. The probe has now been handed over to the CBI.

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The name and number of the seer and an aide were listed for tapping among persons being investigated in a case of smuggling of red sanders. The tapping was allegedly done around the time of Lok Sabha elections.

The CBI is currently investigating several police officers in connection with the matter. While there is no direct link between the then chief minister and the alleged phone tapping, the investigation is looking at whose instance police were tapping the phones.

“Nirmalananda Swami has given me strength. He has given me shelter under his social programmes. He prayed for me to Kalabyreshwara. Is it possible for me to behave in a suspicious manner with him. Never,’’ Kumaraswamy said on social media. “In this case my name is being taken unnecessarily.”

Chief Minister Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra has demanded that Kumaraswamy apologise to the seer. “There is no match for Kumaraswamy when it comes to stooping low for selfish interests and power. He has not just tapped the phone of a seer respected all over the country but has committed an unforgivable offence by including his name among a list of smugglers. If he has any decency left, he should apologise to the guru,’’ Vijayendra has said.

“They have tapped phones on a large scale and in an illegal manner. It is a cognizable offence. They will have to give answers and they must face justice for their actions. Let the whole community know about their actions,’’ Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwathnarayan, also from the Vokkaliga community, said.