In a pre-dawn swoop, the CBI raided residences and an office of some individuals linked to senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar at five places in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and Ramanagara on charges of illegally exchanging demonetised currency notes.
The raids took a political hue with Shivakumar, an MLA, and his MP brother DK Suresh calling it a “vindictive act” by the BJP-led government at the Centre to frame them.
The CBI said the raids were carried out on charges that Corporation Bank chief manager B Prakash at Ramanagara, in connivance with ‘unknown others’, had illegally exchanged Rs 10 lakh of scrapped currency notices with new ones on 14 November, 2016.
Prakash and others are also accused of trying to cover up this act by fabricating requisition slips.
“Searches are being conducted at five places in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and Ramanagara which includes Election Cell, Kanakapura and an office at Ramanagara and three residences of the election cell in-charge Shivananda, election cell clerk Nanjappa and one Padmanabaiah.
“Padmanabaiah had allegedly exchanged the SBN notes in the bank,” said a CBI press release. The investigating agency stated that a case against Prakash and some officials of Corporation Bank and others was registered on 7 April, 2017.
Suresh said search warrants were issued by a special CBI court against 11 people, including him, but expressed ignorance about the charges.
He alleged that the Central government was targeting him and his brother Shivakumar. “Main targets are me and my brother DKS and nobody else. By targeting others, they are trying to reach us. I have no idea who these 11 people are,” said Suresh. He said he was ready for legal recourse against the “vindictive action”.
“We have been targeted by BJP, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. They have given a clear instruction to the government of India officials, like CBI, IT and ED. Some sources told us that they all had a meeting three-four weeks ago. Through some messengers we got the information,” he said.
Shivakumar, who was instrumental in keeping the Congress MLAs together at a resort in the recent political drama in Karnataka against alleged poaching bid by the BJP to muster numbers, said he won’t succumb to any pressure.
“If somebody thinks that they can force me and my family to bend before them by threatening us, we are not the ones who will succumb to their pressure. We are ready for any challenge. We had an inkling about these problems,” said Shivakumar.
“Officials under the BJP rule should not forget this phase is not going to be permanent and nobody is immortal. Neither is anybody going to remain in power forever, nor your powers will be permanent. You have been given powers for a while. So do not act as a puppet in somebody’s hand to trouble others,” said Shivakumar.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Siddaramaiah condemned the CBI raids, alleging that the Centre had been targeting Congress leaders but it will not succeed.