The Karnataka High Court on Friday granted former Bengaluru Mayor and Congress Leader R Sampath Raj conditional bail. He was arrested for his alleged role in the Bengaluru riots case and was labelled as the prime accused in the preliminary chargesheet filed by the Central Crime Branch (CCB). Justice John Michael Cunha granted bail with conditions that he will have to cooperate in the trial, not tamper with evidence and not leave the city without obtaining prior permission from the trial court.
The Karnataka High Court had earlier issued a non-bailable warrant against him and directed the investigating officer handling the case to take all possible steps to arrest him.
He had gone missing on October 30 from a private hospital in Bengaluru where he was undergoing treatment for COVID-19; and was arrested later in November. His arrest had led to the arrest of Zakir, another prime accused. The two of them were hiding in Nagarhole.
The Bengaluru police booked Sampath Raj in connection with the Bengaluru riots case in which the house of Pulikeshi Nagar MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy was set on fire on August 11, 2020 which was started after a controversial social media post put up by the MLA’s nephew Naveen. Three persons were killed in police firing and over 50 people were injured in the violence. This followed by riots which also saw arson, vandalism and stone-pelting targeting the politician's house and police stations at DJ. Halli and KG Halli.
More than 300 people were arrested in connection with the violence and the preliminary charge sheet filed in October said that intra-party rivalry within Congress was at the root of the violence. Raj and Abdul Zakir, former Congress corporator, were arrested in the case, the police said.
The Karnataka High Court granted conditional bail to former Pulikeshi Nagar Corporator Abdul Rakeeb Zakir on February 6. The former Congress leader was also named as an accused in the interim chargesheet by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) on October 12, 2020.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) started investigating the case following orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The NIA also arrested members of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Popular Front of India (PFI) in connection with the case.