Days after being discharged from a private hospital in Bengaluru, former city mayor and Congress corporator Sampath Raj, who was named in the preliminary chargesheet filed in the Bengaluru riots case, still remains absconding.
On Monday, the central crime branch (CCB), that is investigating the case, put up a notice on Sampath Raj's residence asking him to present himself before the agency. The notice read-- "Present yourself before the ACP of crime branch as soon as you get this notice and cooperate with investigation of the above mentioned case. If you fail to do so, it will be seen as deliberate avoiding of investigation and we will take up further legal action". At that time, no family members of Raj were present at his residence.
Responding to media queries regarding Raj's whereabouts, Sandeep Patil, CCB Chief said that they would arrest him soon. "He is an accused who we have already charge-sheeted in the DJ Halli case, he has been discharged from the hospital and remains absconding. Our investigating Officer (IO) had written to the hospital when he was admitted to inform us at the time of discharge, which the doctor had acknowledged during admission, but he has failed to do so and discharged him without telling us. Under these circumstances we had issued notice to the doctor and now Sampath raj as well," he said.
Sampath Raj and his aide were questioned a few days after the riots when the crime Branch took up the probe. It was suspected that when the situation on ground became volatile on August 11, Raj tried to take advantage of it, by inciting the mob that had gathered near Naveen's home, who is one of the main accused, and asked them to move towards Naveen's uncle, Akhand Srinivasa Murthy, the Congress MLA's home.
Internal Congress rivalry is said to have prompted this move, that ultimately led the mob to burn down Murthy's home. Police say they had evidence of Raj's involvement in instigating the mob, to target the MLA's home. They were able to track call data records as well as messages, police said.
It is alleged that Raj was unhappy on not being considered for the party ticket to contest from the Pulikesinagar constituency, and was instead asked to contest from C V Raman Nagar during the assembly polls in 2018.
Pulikesinagar was considered an easy win for the congress, with its huge minority and Dalit electorate. However, Murthy was fielded by the Congress from here, as a reward for defecting from the JDS to the Congress.
The Congress party however has denied any sort of internal rivalry among its leaders and in fact has blamed the ruling BJP's inefficiency in maintaining law and order in the state. Karnataka Pradesh Congress president DK Shivakumar vehemently denied that no congressmen were involved in the riots.
"This is BJP trying to hide their mistake and create a conspiracy, at the time of election they want to bring up the issue, if they had to look out (for Sampath Raj) they could have done it 3 months back. They want to gain sympathy during elections. Congress is nowhere connected to it and we stand by our congressmen. He was covid-positive and was in quarantine, he must be taking rest." D K Shivakumar said.