New Delhi: The offices and homes of officials from a private television channel, Power TV, that ran a series of programmes last month alleging corruption by some members of Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s family, were raided by the Bengaluru Police on Monday.
The channel had shown sting audio clips of its managing director-editor, Rakesh Shetty, with a member of the chief minister’s family. It had also used WhatsApp chats between a construction firm official and another member of Yediyurappa’s family and documents showing large deposits in banks accounts of firms linked to one of this family members to claim that members of the chief minister’s family were involved in money laundering, according to a report in the Indian Express.
The sting was televised even thought a BJP worker, C. Nagaraja Gowda, had obtained a temporary injunction from a senior civil judge for prohibiting the broadcast of “allegations against the Chief Minister of Karnataka, his family members and the BJP on the basis of false, fabricated and concocted stories”. The ex parte injunction was granted on September 2.
Following a complaint by the director of a construction firm, who was cited by the channel as a source of information on the alleged corruption, the Bengaluru police began investigations into the case.
In the complaint filed on September 24, Chandrakanth Ramalingam, a director in Ramalingam Construction Company Limited (RCCL), that undertakes construction and irrigation projects in Karnataka, claimed that Shetty had recorded his conversation after coercing him to say that he had paid political persons.
Ramalingam said it was in June that Shetty approached him claiming that he had connections to the Union home minister Amit Shah and could bag big contracts from RCCL from the Centre and in the states.
The complaint, a copy of which was also presented in the Karnataka assembly by law minister J.C. Madhuswamy, also stated that Shetty had obtained details of RCCL’s projects in Karnataka and offered to get an outstanding amount of Rs 140 crore from the Bengaluru Development Authority for a housing project in return for a 5% commission.
Ramalingam’s complaint had, however, given details of the case. It stated that the company paid the channel official Rs 25 lakh after receiving a payment of Rs 7.79 crore from BDA in August.
On the basis of the complaint, the police registered a case of criminal intimidation, forgery, extortion, cheating, and criminal conspiracy against Shetty and others.
On its part, Power TV claimed on Monday that it was the RCCL official who approached it for help to get projects cleared and accused the state government of registering a complaint against its officials.
Police teams on Monday searched the offices of Power TV and Shetty’s residence. They also questioned an anchor of the news channel.
The sting had stirred a political cauldron with the opposition Congress seeking Yediyurappa’s resignation and an investigation into the alleged scam by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) monitored by the chief justice of the Karnataka high court.
The charges were denied by Yediyurappa, who said that the opposition must first prove them to be true. He also refused to speak on the investigation, saying “the matter is in court”. Law minister Madhuswamy had earlier on Saturday also asked the Congress to state how it could rely on “baseless charges” in a sting operation to accuse the government of corruption.
Last week, a criminal defamation notice was issued on behalf of Yediyurappa’s younger son B.Y. Vijayendra to Power TV accusing it of targeting him after he refused a channel official’s request to transfer a deputy commissioner of police.