Bengaluru riots case: Former Congress mayor Sampath Raj and his close aide Riyazuddin arrested by CCB police :

Pramesh S Jain

Senior Congress leader and former Bengaluru City Mayor Sampath Raj,a key accused in a case related to the communal violence that broke out in the city in August, was arrested on Monday by the Central Crime Branch police from his friends house in Frazer town.

The accused has been identified as R Sampath Raj a key accused in the DJ Halli and KG Halli violence case and Riyazuddin,close aide of Sampath Raj and Zakir.

Sampath Raj had gone missing since October 30 from a private hospital in Bengaluru where he was undergoing treatment for the coronavirus.

The city court on Tuesday remanded former mayor Sampath Raj to CCB custody for two days till 19th November to interrogate him. About his role in the violence.

Sandeep Patil joint commissioner of police Crime,told reporters a team led by DCP Crime-1,KP Ravikumar,under ACP Venugopal and his special team has arrested the absconding accused on Monday night from his friends house in Benson town and we have produced him to court and we have taken him into two days custody,to ascertain his role in the violence he added.

Special public prosecutor,P Prasanna Kumar sought 10 days custody but the court granted two days since the request was made for interrogation.The CCB likely to seek extension of custody based on the findings of the investigation.

Mr. Kumar made submission before the court that Sampath Raj is a key Conspirator in the case and absconding since the day one to avoid the investigation.This means that Sampath Raj never cooperated with the investigation.

The CCB needs his custody to ascertain larger conspiracy and the people who possible helped Sampath Raj during the violence and also while he was on the run.

The CCB is now questioning him to know why he escaped,the places where he went to take shelter and the people who helped him he added.

Meanwhile the counsel representing Sampath Raj filed bail application.And the hearing may come after two days.

The CCB on Monday tracked down Sampath Raj from his friend’s house in Pulakeshi Nagar . Sampath had returned to city after CCB arrested his associate for giving shelter and harbouring him to farm house near Nagarahole where he was hiding for five days.

This comes barely three days after the Karnataka High Court directed the CCB on November 13th to take steps to trace and arrest Raj, who had been named ‘absconding accused’ by the CCB in an interim charge sheet filed on October 12.

A special team tracked him down to a friend’s house in Benson Town where he was hiding, said the police.

The former mayor had been trying to evade arrest since mid-October after he was discharged from a private hospital where he was undergoing treatment for COVID-19.He has been on the run for the last 22 days,and even hided in Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well to evade arrest, senior officer told reporters.

The CCB in its charge sheet claimed he was part of the conspiracy in the violence that set Pulikeshinagar MLA,Akhanda Srinivasamurthy’s house on the night the violence erupted.

Earlier, the police had arrested his aide, Riyazuddin, for allegedly sheltering him. Riyazuddin confessed that he hid Raj at a farmhouse near Nagarhole.

Reacting to the arrest,Mr.Srinivasmurthy told media persons that he wanted to know why his house was burnt and what wrong he had committed to be targeted.

I have been running from pillar to post for the past three months and six days to get justice.A detailed inquiry will reveal his intentions behind the violence and I request the authorities concerned to ensure that strict punishment is meted out so that this should not be repeated.

He even said, This is probably the first incident where an MLA house has been set on fire along with two police stations.This happened in Karnataka and brings disrepute to the state, Mr.Murthy told the media.

Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar alleged that Raj’s arrest was planned by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government.It’s their agenda to do this,it’s a clear message of targeting Congress leaders, Shivakumar told reporters.

Three people were killed and at least 60 were injured in violence that erupted in Bengaluru in August after a mob attacked the residence of Murthy.The violence broke out over a derogatory Facebook post allegedly made by Murthy’s nephew against Prophet Muhammad.The riots saw arson,vandalism and stone-pelting targeting the politician’s house and police stations at DJ Halli and KG Halli.

More than 300 people were arrested for the violence and a preliminary chargesheet filed by the police in October said that intra-party rivalry within Congress was what instigated it. Raj and Abdul Zakir, another Congress corporator,were among the key accused named.

The National Investigation Agency is also investigating the matter and had arrested the prime accused a key conspirator Sayed Saddiq Ali,44,and a auto driver, identified as,Syed Setu,34, in the case in September.

On September 22, the investigation agency named Social Democratic Party of India’s district secretary Muzammil Pasha for instigating the mob” in the city.The group is the political arm of the Popular Front of India, a Muslim organisation that describes itself on its Facebook page as working for equal rights,freedom,justice and security for all Indians.The Karnataka government had also blamed the group for the violence.