CID may probe Bagair Hukum land case

The Karnataka government seems to have worked out a bailout plan for Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, Bangalore Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy, his wife K Prabha and thirteen others who are entangled in a Bagair Hukum land allotment scam.

The government is all set to transfer the investigation to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF), as it had earlier done with the probe into the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) multi-billion fake bill scam in three Assembly constituencies of Gandhi Nagar, Malleswaram and Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bangalore.

Two months ago, the BMTF had registered a case against Mayor Murthy and his wife Prabha for grabbing four acres of Bagair Hukum land each on the basis of a false declaration in 2004.

For the landless

As per a government scheme, Bagair Hukum land can be allotted only to landless labourers, and the Mayor and his wife had declared themselves to be one.

Prabha claimed to be Kenchappa’s daughter instead of stating the fact that she was the wife of Murthy, only to take advantage of the scheme.

An inquiry in May this year, however, exposed their fraudulent ways after complaints against them were found to be true. Subsequently, the land allotments were cancelled.

After Deccan Herald broke the story about the Mayor’s misdeeds on August 15, the BMTF registered a case against him and his wife. An investigation revealed that Deputy Chief Minister Ashoka was the key person who recommended the allotment of the land to the couple as the then chairperson of the Bagair Hukum Land Grant Committee.

As the probe proceeded, three more such bogus allotments came to light in the Uttari area around Somanahalli village under Uttarahalli Hobli. Based on the probe, four such cases were registered against Ashoka and 15 others.

Sources in the Home department said Ashoka, who also holds the Home portfolio under which the Police department comes, had been allegedly pressuring the government to transfer the cases from the BMTF to the CID.

Sources claimed that within a week, an order to this effect could be passed. Dr R P Sharma, Additional Director General of Police, BMTF, refused to comment on the issue saying it was the government’s prerogative to decide who should investigate the case.

Reacting to the attempts to transfer the case from the BMTF to the CID, former mayor P R Ramesh demanded that Ashoka should step down as deputy chief minister to pave the way for a smooth trial in the case.

“We have seen how a probe against him was sabotaged when the autonomous Lokayukta police gave a ‘B’ Report to the court saying it could not find any substance in the complaint,” he said.

He said a high-profile case involving a minister caught in a cheating case cannot be probed by the State police as they would be under tremendous pressure.

“Under these circumstances, I demand that the government hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a fair probe,” said Ramesh.

He urged Governor H R Bhardwaj to step in and press the government to order a CBI probe into the matter.

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