Centre tapping our phones, say state ministers

Centre tapping our phones, say state ministers

K J George

A few key ministers in the Congress government in Karnataka are apprehensive about using their mobile phones suspecting that there could be income tax raids on houses and businesses of their associates.

Bengaluru Development Minister K J George told DH that he has stopped using the phone as it is being tapped by several Central government agencies including the CBI, income tax and the Enforcement Directorate.

The minister said that all the I-T raids that are going on in the state could be linked to phone tapping. Incidentally, I-T raids continued in the state even on Saturday.

Sources said that I-T sleuths raided the house of R Umesh in Chamarajanagar. He is the chairman of the Karnataka Minimum Wages Commission and a close confidant of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

George’s statement comes a day after Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the Centre was tapping phones of Congress leaders to counter the party’s election strategy. Energy Minister D K Shivakumar endorsed his Cabinet colleagues’ charge.

“Once I speak to someone on the phone, then there will be raids on the houses and businesses of those (who I spoke to). These raids are being conducted based on phone tapping just to link my name with those raided. Hence, I stopped using the phone,’’ George said, when it was pointed out to him that he could not be reached on the phone.

“Central agencies are raiding everyone except me based on my phone tapping. They have conducted raids on my businesses and that of my brother but not my house. So far, they could not link or find anything to nail me,’’ he said, adding that he did not want to put any of his friends in trouble. “Hence I have stopped using the phone,’’ he reiterated.

George said that some of his Cabinet colleagues too have stopped using the phones for the same reason. In the past, several ministers including M B Patil, H C Mahadevappa and Vinay Kulakarni have said that their phones are being tapped.

Recently, there were raids on houses and offices of PWD contractors in Bengaluru and Chamarajanagar. All the raids are linked to PWD Minister Mahadevappa, sources said.

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