IB sleuths 'watching' Setty give game away

On Friday, Setty was shocked to learn that the cloak-and-dagger unit of the State’s snoop agency were tracking all his movements while he was inspecting the ongoing development work of Banashankari temple here.

Two intelligence men in mufti were video-recording his movements at the temple. They also allegedly used mobile phones to relay what they were watching to unknown persons suspected to be their bosses. Even the minister’s press briefing was recorded.
Of course, it would never be known who in the government ordered the Intelligence branch to keep tabs on Setty whose relations with Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa are reportedly strained. The Intelligence branch reports to the chief minister.

The sleuths’ none-too-covert operation came to light when they were found recording a tiff between some media persons and staff from the minister’s office over arrangements for the press conference.

When journalists noticed that a couple of unknown persons video-recording the proceedings, they questioned the duo.

One of them responded that he was from the State Intelligence Branch and that he was under instructions to record Setty’s temple visit.

What is strange, however, is that the sleuths made a clean breast of their antecedents and the ongoing action. When word reached Setty, he was furious. When he arrived at the spot, the person who was using the video camera fled. As he ran, the mobile phone slipped out of his grip, but he did not bother to retrieve it — not quite a reaction expected of an Intelligence branch.

“I am shocked that I am being watched. I have no knowledge that I am under surveillance,” reacted a visibly angry Setty.

While there is no evidence to suggest that Yeddyurappa ordered the surveillance on Setty, what is an open secret is that two do not enjoy the best of relations. The CM had recently taken Setty to task for having failed to work devotedly for the party during the Lok Sabha election campaign. Grapevine has it that the CM is planning to drop Setty from the Cabinet.

Not an isolated case

State government sources said the alleged surveillance mounted on Setty was not an isolated case.

Recently, a police official was caught on the wrong foot for following Urban Development minister too closely.

The minister’s staff, sources said, caught hold of the policeman who was found following Kumar at an unusually close distance not just in his official residence but also within the Vidhana Soudha premises.

The policeman refused to disclose his identity after being confronted. A police department identity card was recovered from his person after he was frisked.

The matter was taken up with a deputy commissioner of police who reportedly told Kumar that the police were trying to provide proximate security in the wake of the November 2008 terror strikes in Mumbai and the military operations by the Sri Lankan army against the LTTE. But BJP sources said they were convinced that a section of ministers, who are considered “dissidents” by the State party leadership, are routinely watched. The list includes ministers hailing from Bellary.

Later, when media persons me police Commissioner Shankar Bidari to hand over the mobile phone, he said there was nothing wrong to record a public event. “The Intelligence person must have fled since the minister had personally intervened. I will verify whether the person recording the event indeed belongs to the State intelligence unit or not,” he stated. However, a senior police officer requesting anonymity said the State Intelligence Branch is not used for political intelligence gathering or watching the movements of ministers. Recording is done only when there is a huge public gathering, the officer informed.
DH News Service

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