Following the arrest of senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case of alleged money laundering, on Tuesday (August 3), violence broke out in parts of Karnataka on Wednesday (August 4).
Supporters of Shivakumar set aflame a state-run KSRTC bus in Kanakapura, the home turf of the arrested leader besides pelting stones at other vehicles and blocking stretches of the Bengaluru-Mysuru national highway. They also burnt effigies of BJP leaders in Ramanagara.
Schools and colleges in the Kanakapura-Ramanagara region were ordered to be shut, as a precautionary measure. State home minister Basavaraj Bommai ordered the district superintendent of police to take appropriate measures to maintain law and order in the state.
The ED arrested Shivakumar, on grounds of non-cooperation, after questioning him for four days starting August 30. Thereafter, he was taken to Delhi’s RML Hospital following complaints of uneasiness and high blood pressure.
Soon after the arrest, Shivakumar tweeted from his official twitter handle saying, “I congratulate my BJP friends for finally being successful in their mission of arresting me. The IT and ED cases against me are politically motivated and I am a victim of BJP’s politics of vengeance and vendetta.”
He, however, appealed to his party cadres not to be disheartened as he has done nothing illegal.
Shivakumar’s arrest is the second high profile arraignment effected after former union minister P Chidamabaram was arrested in the INX media case.
Shivakumar will be produced before the special court set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in New Delhi on today (September 4)
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Congress called for a state-wide bandh on September 4 in order to condemn the alleged misuse of central agencies by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.
While the state BJP unit remained silent on the arrest, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who shares a good rapport with Shivakumar, said he would be the happiest person if Shivakumar got exonerated of all the charges.
SR Hiremath, the Karnataka-based activist whose reports led to the unearthing of the illegal mining scam in Karnataka, had accused Shivakumar of purchasing nine lakh tonnes of high-grade iron ore from Mysore Minerals in the guise of low-grade ore at throwaway prices.
C Venugopal, general secretary, AICC said, the arrest of Shivakumar was a clear case of political vendetta by the “fascist” BJP government at the centre, for standing up against the politics of horse-trading and subversion of mandate practiced by the BJP.
“Pliant cohorts in these actions – ED and CBI – have proved to be the puppets of the government at the Centre. In doing so, an extremely worrisome and wrong trend has been set by the Modi government to harass, hunt down and neutralize political opponents with fabricated allegations,” Venugopal said.
A chief minister in the waiting, Shivakumar, a Congress veteran rose to power as a Youth Congress leader, challenging Janata Dal (Secular) party supremo HD Devegowda in the late 1980s. Under the guidance of former chief minister SM Krishna, Shivakumar emerged as a tall leader within the party and posed a big threat to JD(S) in the old-Mysore region. Krishna, Shivakumar, and Gowda belong to the dominant Vokkaliga caste.
He is also perceived to be an ace strategist for the Congress’ revival in Karnataka.
The former minister is one of the richest Congress MLAs in the country. As per the affidavit filed before the 2018 polls, Shivakumar declared assets worth ₹840 crore.
Income tax and enforcement directorate raids are not new to him. Several cases of illegal mining and illegal transportation of granite in Kanakapura and Ramanagara are pending against him and his family members.