More IT raids made on Karnataka Minister, kin, aides

Bengaluru: The Income Tax (IT) Department sleuths conducted more searches on Karnataka Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar, his relatives and friends in New Delhi, Bengaluru and other places in Karnataka, an official said on Thursday.

“More searches were conducted today (Thursday) based on the information and material we gathered in the search operations yesterday (Wednesday). Searches at some places are almost completed,” a senior IT Department official told IANS in Bengaluru here on the condition of anonymity.

Searches were also conducted at four locations, including Safdarjung Enclave and R.K. Puram, in south Delhi. The residence of the Minister’s personal assistant was also searched in Delhi.

“Shivakumar’s aide and his driver were also detained for questioning in Delhi,” admitted an IT official.

The new locations being searched were the Minister’s residence in Kanakapura, about 60km from Bengaluru, and his father-in-law Thimmaya’s house in Mysuru.

“Our teams scrutinised the documents recovered during the searches and questioned the Minister, his relatives and friends on the sources of income, assets and cash found in their premises,” reiterate the official.

Among the places where searches were continuing were the residence of the Minister’s astrologer Dwarakanath Guruji and the National Hill View School in Bengaluru, which is run by one of his family trusts.

Security was stepped up at the residences of the Minister, his younger brother D.K. Suresh in the city and Ramanagara in Bengaluru Rural district and the Minister’s father-in-law at Mysuru, with additional reinforcement of the state reserve police.

Shivakumar represents the Kanakapura assembly segment and Suresh is the Lok Sabha member from the neighbouring Bengaluru Rural segment.

Over 100 IT sleuths began the searches on Wednesday at about 60 locations in the state, in Delhi and Chennai, which led to seizure of several documents and cash worth Rs 10 crore from some of the locations.

The sleuths also raided a deluxe suite in the Eagleton Golf Resort in Bidadi, about 30 km from here, where Shivakumar was staying since July 30. The resort is also hosting the Congress party’s 44 legislators from Gujarat camping since July 29, ostensibly to prevent the rival BJP from poaching them ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls on August 8.

In a related development, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah discussed the fallout of the tax raids on Shivakumar with some of his senior cabinet colleagues and the ruling party’s state unit President G. Parameshwara at his official residence in the city.

“The Chief Minister has not scheduled official engagements for the day as he is preoccupied with meetings at his residence with Ministers and officials and party leaders,” said an official.

“Using IT Department as a weapon of political vendetta is not only a blatant misuse of power, but also against principles of democracy and cooperative federalism,” tweeted Siddaramaiah.

As per the declaration with the nomination papers made to thne Election Commission for the 2013 assembly elections, Shivakumar is said to be the second richest politician in the state with assets valued at Rs 251 crore four years ago.

Hundreds of Youth Congress activists and party cadres, including women, staged protests against the raids near the Minister’s residence in the city and Kanakapura and the main Income Tax office in the city centre.