The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday, 30 August took up the investigation into the alleged, illegal phone tapping of 185 people including politicians and senior police officers during the previous Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka. The central agency has also filed an FIR against unknown persons as part of the investigation.
Yediyurappa had announced a CBI probe after disqualified JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath, who served as JD(S) state president and turned rebel, accused the H D Kumaraswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 people, including him.
The phone tapping scandal came to light after three audio tapes between Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao and someone called Faraz were released to the media.
In the clips, Rao can allegedly be heard talking to Faraz, a ‘power broker’ with links to the Congress, about whether or not Faraz had managed to convince the high command in Delhi to make him city commissioner.
There were allegations that the recording was released by ADGP Alok Kumar, who was shunted out of office after Yediyurappa government came to power.
Sandeep Patil, Joint-Commissioner of Police (Crime), who heads the Central Crime Branch (CCB) was asked to probe the matter and submit a report. His report made a shocking revelation that several senior politicians along with top cops were under surveillance, allegedly on the orders of a cop of the ADGP rank.
What Does the Interim Report State?
The first interim report which was submitted concludes that there is evidence of phone tapping of over 185 people, including senior MLAs, aides of politicians, and top cops including present Bengaluru commissioner Bhaskar Rao, The New Indian Express reported.
The interim report named senior BJP, Congress and JD(S) party leaders, media persons, close aides of politicians, and police officers among the listed numbers that had been intercepted for weeks leading up to the general elections in April.
Reacting to this, Kumar reportedly said, “We were intercepting the phone calls of Faraz as he was a suspect in a Ponzi scam and he had met me once. We have not tracked others’ calls.”
Allegations Against Kumaraswamy
On Wednesday, 14 August, former JD(S) president and now disqualified MLA, H Vishwanath, alleged that former CM Kumaraswamy used to tap the phones of his allies and enemies alike. Vishwanath claimed that HDK had tapped the phones of Siddaramaiah and BS Yediyurappa.
Kumaraswamy took to Twitter to distance himself and his government from the scandal. He wrote, “I was the one who repeatedly said that the power of the chief minister is not permanent. This chair has no need to retain power by eavesdropping on telephone conversations. These allegations levelled against me by certain leaders are far from the truth.”
ಮುಖ್ಯಮಂತ್ರಿ ಅಧಿಕಾರ ಶಾಶ್ವತವಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಪದೇ ಪದೇ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದವನು ನಾನು. ಈ ಕುರ್ಚಿಗಾಗಿ ಟೆಲಿಫೋನ್ ಕದ್ದಾಲಿಕೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಅಧಿಕಾರ ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಅವಶ್ಯಕತೆ ನನಗಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಈ ವಿಚಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವರು ನನ್ನ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಮಾಡಿರುವ ಆರೋಪ ಸತ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ದೂರವಾದದ್ದು.— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) August 14, 2019
After the allegations took a political turn, on 18 August, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa asked the the CBI to probe the matter, which has now been accepted by the central agency.
(With inputs from PTI, The Times of India and The New Indian Express)
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