Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on Wednesday sent Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar to Enforcement Directorate remand till September 13, reported ANI. The agency, which arrested Shivakumar on Tuesday night in connection with alleged money laundering, had sought his custody for 14 days.
Earlier in the day, the Enforcement Directorate had told the court that custodial interrogation was required as it wanted to confront the Congress leader with evidence. It had said that Shivakumar gave evasive replies and was non-cooperative during the investigation. There is reason to believe the accused is guilty of laundering, said the agency.
Shivakumar’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi had moved a bail application.
Meanwhile, there was sporadic violence during a strike called by the Congress across Karnataka on Wednesday to protest against the arrest. Meanwhile, Shivakumar was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in New Delhi, The Indian Express reported.
Protestors pelted stones and burnt a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation bus in Chunchi colony of Kanakapura city, Shivakumar’s constituency. The protestors also attempted to burn another bus at Harohalli depot.
At least 10 buses were vandalised in stone pelting at Sathanur on Tuesday night. The Ramanagara city police asked the KSRTC not to operate buses in the city until they provide clearance.
All schools in Ramanagara district have been closed for the day, The News Minute reported. Protests were held in Bengaluru, especially at major junctions like Maurya Circle and Anand Rao Circle. Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai spoke to senior police officers to take stock of the situation.
Meanwhile, security at Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s house and the BJP offices in Ramanagara and Kanakapura have been beefed up, The Indian Express reported. The strike will be effective in the two cities only, the daily said. No bandh is being observed in the state capital Bengaluru despite protests. However, traffic on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway was affected. Traffic on the Bengaluru-Ramanagara-Mysuru road was diverted to Magadi, Huliyurdurga and Madduru.
Clear case of political vendetta, says Congress
The Congress said it will not be intimidated by the “politics of persecution” and continue to ask “hard questions” to the government. The party said the National Democratic Alliance government’s second term till date was characterised by “tyranny, chaos and anarchy”.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari claimed that there was a “complete breakdown of governance” in the Narendra Modi government’s second term. He cited economic slowdown, “undeclared emergency” in Kashmir and the situation in Assam after the final National Register of Citizens was published. “DK Shivakumar’s only crime was that he provided protection to those Congress MLAs of Gujarat who were being poached by the NDA-BJP during the Rajya Sabha elections,” Tewari said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the arrest of Shivakumar was another example of the “vendetta politics” by the BJP government using agencies like the Enforcement Directorate or the Central Bureau of Investigation and a “pliant media”.
Congress’ General Secretary KC Venugopal said the arrest was a “clear case of political vendetta by the fascist BJP government at the centre”. Following Congress leader P Chidambaram’s arrest, another leader had been “dubiously, vengefully and selectively targeted” for standing up to the saffron party, he added.
“Although there are well proved and explicit cases of black money transactions and money laundering during the political horse-trading in Karnataka by the BJP leaders, the central investigating agencies have not registered any cases against them,” Venugopal said. He also said that the investigating agencies were acting as puppets of the Centre.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that Shivakumar’s arrest was done to demoralise him and the party workers. “As per rules, whenever Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate called him, he responded. He is cooperating,” Kharge told ANI. “Is he absconding? Why are they doing this? Just to harass and mentally torture him. I condemn this.”
Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy appealed to Shivakumar’s supporters to maintain peace and not to vandalise public property.
Several Youth Congress workers were detained in New Delhi after they clashed with police personnel during a protest against Shivakumar’s arrest, reported PTI. Karnataka Youth Congress President BV Srinivas lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Shivakumar’s arrest. “Modi has crossed all limits in his desperation to harass opposition leaders,” he tweeted. “Such pitiful actions are an embarrassment to the office he represents. We stand by our leader DK Shivakumar ji.”
Srinivas also told ANI that Shivakumar’s health has deteriorated due to his harassment. “Doctors have advised him rest but Enforcement Directorate is trying to take him away,” Srinivas claimed.
BJP criticises Congress’ ‘politically convenient’ remarks
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, rejected the Congress’ charges and said there was “clear evidence” against Shivakumar. The Congress leaders’ statements were “politically convenient”. said BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao. He alleged that it had now “become fashionable” for the Congress to level charges of vendetta whenever its leaders were arrested for a financial crime.
“They [probe agencies] have taken all the time to really investigate the case properly and this action cannot really be termed political by any stretch of imagination,” Rao told PTI.
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