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'Second Victim After VG Siddhartha': Cong Sees Red as K'taka Dy CM's Aide Allegedly Kills Self After Raids

Ramesh, who had been Parameshwara's aide for eight years, had allegedly been distressed over the raids conducted across 30 properties owned by the senior Congress leader.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:October 12, 2019, 10:46 PM IST
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'Second Victim After VG Siddhartha': Cong Sees Red as K'taka Dy CM's Aide Allegedly Kills Self After Raids
Congress leader G Parameshwara's aide is said to have hung himself from a tree in Bengaluru. (Image : Twitter)

Bengaluru: The personal assistant and long-time aide of former Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara allegedly committed suicide on Saturday. He left an alleged suicide note saying he took the extreme step as he was distressed after the Income Tax Department conducted raids on properties owned by Parameshwara.

Ramesh, the personal assistant hailing from Melehalli in Ramanagar, allegedly hanged himself from a tree near the Bangalore University campus in West Bengaluru.

The Congress claimed that vindictive harassment by I-T officials had led to Ramesh taking the extreme step. The party said if only legal action had been taken against those I-T officials who had harassed entrepreneur VG Siddhartha, such an incident would not have recurred.

Ramesh had been an aide to Parameshwara for almost eight years. His phone had been switched off since early on Saturday after he had told friends he was depressed over the raids.

Over 30 places related to Parameshwara have been raided since Thursday, with the I-T Department stating they were investigating irregularities in earnings related to medical admissions run by his educational trusts.

The I-T department has summoned Parameshwara for questioning on Tuesday in connection with the raids. The suicide note found from the spot where Ramesh's body was found hanging, read, "I am rattled with the I-T raids in my house and have decided to commit suicide to protect honour (sic). Anguished with the culture that the poor should remain poor forever, I arrived at this decision."

Police said the note appealed to I-T officials not to trouble his wife and children.

I-T officials, speaking off the record, said that although Ramesh was present when the search and seizure operations took place over the last two days, him home had not been raided.

Lamenting the death, Parameshwara said he had told Ramesh to be courageous and face the situation boldly. "Don't know why he committed suicide. This morning also, I spoke to him and told him to stay bold," he said.

Parameshwara, who had served as the Congress state chief, visited the place where his confidant committed suicide.

The Karnataka Congress held the I-T Department responsible for Ramesh's death.

"The I-T Department claims the second victim in the state after Siddharth," the party's state unit said in a tweet, referring to the Coffee Day tycoon who committed suicide in Bengaluru earlier this year.

It further added, "Harassment from @BJP4India controlled IT dept has claimed life of Ramesh...In its rush to pester opposition, they have surpassed all levels of Humanity & has repeatedly exceeded its mandate."

State Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao in a tweet said that the raids have become politically motivated and the department's vindictive actions have been claiming lives.

"I castigate the barbaric heckling by the I-T officilas which has resulted in Ramesh's suicide. We demand a transparent and impartial enquiry by the government," Rao said in a tweet.

Speaking to reporters, Rao wanted to know why Congress leaders were only raided. "What's the motive? Their only agenda is to target and harass those who write and speak against them (BJP)," he said.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah alleged that Ramesh was tortured for two-three days during questioning. Ramesh had stated he was committing suicide unable to bear their atrocities, Siddaramaiah claimed.

Summoned by I-T Department

Parameshwara's family runs the Siddhartha Group of Institutions, established by his father HM Gangadharaiah 58 years ago.

Parameshwara on Saturday said I-T officials have summoned him on Tuesday. "So, I will go there on Tuesday," he said, adding that officials told him the raids were carried out following complaints by some students.

Parameshwara refused to give a political colour to the raids and said he was preparing to respond to the findings of the I-T officials.

Officials had earlier said the raids at the premises belonging to Parameshwara and others were in connection with a multi-crore tax evasion case linked to the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). The department took action as part of its probe to check alleged irregularities in the conduct of NEET exams in two medical colleges run by a trust in Tumakuru city in Karnataka. Parameshwara is stated to be the chairman of the trust identified as Shri Siddhartha Education Trust.

A case of alleged forgery in the NEET exam by impersonation and alleged illegal payments made to secure seats was the trigger for the I-T action, they said.

The I-T department said in a press release on Friday that it had searched on October 9 a prominent business group in Karnataka which runs multiple educational institutions.

According to the release, overall the total undisclosed income detected is around Rs 100 crore considering cash donations received for 185 seats averaging Rs 50 lakh to Rs 65 lakh per seat and total seizure of undisclosed assets of Rs. 8.82 crore. It said it unearthed the conversion of seats, which were originally to be allotted by merit through counselling by the medical counselling committee into institutional quota seats through dropout system.

The department said it had found evidence substantiating conversion of seats, commission payments to brokers and sale of seats in exchange of receipt of cash. Evidence of use of multiple agents for conversion of MBBS and PG seats have also been found. Diversion of funds in the form of payment of "on-money" for the purpose of purchase of immovable assets for the benefit of trustees has also been established, according to the department. Evidence of handling of such cash generated, diversion for construction of hotels have also been found, the department said.

'Hawala' transactions relating to movement of such cash have also been established, it said, adding that Rs. 4.22 crore unaccounted cash has been found including Rs. 89 lakh in the house of the main trustee. Evidence also reveal undisclosed investments in real estate, it claimed.

Parameshwara on Thursday said his family was not engaged in any business other than running the education institutions and has been filing income tax returns promptly.

More than 300 I-T sleuths swooped down on premises linked to Parameshwara and former MP RL Jalappa's son J Rajendra on Thursday. They also searched the residence of Parameshwara's brother G Shivaprasad and personal assistant Ramesh, sources in the department said. Rajendra runs the RL Jalappa Institute of Technology at Doddaballapura and Kolar.

(With inputs from PTI)

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