Was sleeping at home during B'luru riots: Sampath Raj

Was sleeping at home during Bengaluru riots, claims ex-mayor Sampath Raj

Raj, a former corporator of the DJ Halli ward, was arrested on the night of November 16 after being on the run for weeks

Former mayor R Sampath Raj upon his arrest in a Bengaluru riots case on November 17. Credit: DH photo/Pushkar V.

Former mayor R Sampath Raj, arrested for orchestrating the arson attack on the house of Pulakeshinagar MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy during the riots on August 11, was remanded in judicial custody on Friday. 

Raj, a former corporator of the DJ Halli ward, was arrested on the night of November 16 after being on the run for weeks. The Central Crime Branch (CCB) grilled him in custody for three days. His lawyer is said to be moving the court shortly for bail. 

A senior CCB officer said they completed the Mahazar (spot inspection) on Thursday and recorded Raj’s statement. Based on the investigation findings, they will take legal opinion and decide on filing an additional charge sheet in the court, if needed, the officer told DH. 

Another senior CCB officer said Raj was taken to a few places on MM Road in Fraser Town, where he had reportedly stayed put for more than two hours during the time when the riots broke out in the nearby DJ Halli and KG Halli areas. He allegedly dialled some people involved in the riots from his chauffeur’s phone. The CCB also took him to the hospital in Hebbal, where he was admitted after testing positive for Covid-19 and from where he had disappeared, the officer said. 

CCB sources insisted that Raj did not give satisfactory replies to questions posed to him but said the Mahazar was done based on available evidence. The CCB discovered that after calling up riot suspects, Raj drove to his house and stayed put there. This was the time when crowds were torching vehicles and police station buildings. In his defence, Raj claimed that he was asleep at home during the arson attack. 

The CCB is yet to trace former Pulakeshinagar corporator, Abdul Rakeeb Zakir, who also has been charged in the case.

Meanwhile, a special court on Friday permitted the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to question Sampath Raj in cases pertaining to the arson attacks on DJ Halli and KG Halli police station buildings during the riots. 

The court denied the NIA permission for the custodial interrogation of Raj but allowed it to question him in the Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara. Accordingly, officers from the central agency will question him on November 23 and 24. 

A senior NIA officer, however, clarified that Raj was not yet an accused in the two cases