A CBI investigation into alleged illegal phone tapping during the tenure of former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy claimed that the phone of Nirmalananda Swami, an influential seer of the dominant Vokkaliga community, was illegally tapped.
On 30 August, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took up the investigation into the alleged illegal phone tapping of 185 people including politicians and senior police officers during the previous Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka.
Yediyurappa had announced a CBI probe after disqualified JD(S) MLA AH Vishwanath, who served as JD(S) state president and turned rebel, accused the HD Kumaraswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 people, including him.
The scandal came to light after three audio tapes between Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao and someone called Faraz were released to the media.
What Does the CBI Investigation Say?
The CBI investigation claimed that police officers intercepted some numbers illegally by associating them to unrelated criminal cases, so as to escape detection during legal scrutiny.
One such example that has been quoted by CBI in their report to the BJP government, is of Nirmalananda Swami, reported The Indian Express.
A police officer in the technical cell allegedly generated a report to tap the seer’s phone by including his name and number in a list of suspects in a red sanders smuggling ring case.
Sources told The Indian Express that directions for incorporating the seer’s phone among those to be intercepted was received from higher officials although it has been shown on record as having been generated at the level of a police inspector.
“In the normal course, the investigating officer finds numbers that needs to be intercepted and obtains permission — it is a bottom-up process. But in this situation the process seems to have been reversed with numbers being provided by the higher ups — it was turned into a top-down process.’’Begaluru Police Official told The Indian Express
Between The Lines
The alleged illegal tapping of the seer’s phone is of importance as he’s considered an important member of the Vokkaliga community, which Kumaraswamy is closely associated with.
With the BJP trying to make its way into Vokkaliga community, which has otherwise been the stronghold of JD(S), the seer has been quoted by BJP Chief Amit Shah in many of his recent speeches.
(With Inputs from The Indian Express)