Bengaluru riots case: Police to question hospital staff over ex-Mayor's disappearance

Central Crime Branch (CCB) sources said that the hospital discharged Sampath Raj without notifying investigation officials, which helped him abscond.
Sampath Raj
Sampath Raj
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Bengaluru’s Central Crime Branch on Monday questioned 11 personnel at Baptist Hospital including doctors and the management, in connection with the disappearance of former Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj. The politician, who is presently absconding, stands accused of conspiring to plan and execute the riots and vandalism at DJ Halli and KG Halli in the city on the night of August 11. 

On October 7, the CCB had issued a notice to Baptist Hospital in Bengaluru, asking it to notify sleuths regarding the date of Sampath Kumar’s discharge as he was named as an accused in the Bengaluru riots case. Sampath Raj was admitted to the hospital after he claimed to have COVID-19 symptoms. 

Sampath Raj’s personal assistant Arun Kumar was arrested by the CCB in September in connection with the case. The CCB allegedly found 11 screen recordings of WhatsApp calls made from Arun’s phone to members of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), who have been named as prime accused in the case. The calls were allegedly made on the evening of August 11. 

In this backdrop, Sampath Raj was questioned earlier in October but the CCB was unable to arrest him as he was admitted to the hospital. At midnight on October 29, the hospital discharged Sampath Raj without notifying the police, which has the CCB suspecting whether the establishment colluded with Sampath Raj, in helping him abscond. 

Police said that Sampath Raj was admitted to the same hospital four times in the last one month, claiming to have symptoms of COVID-19. The CCB had also requested the Health Department to form an independent panel of experts to check whether Sampath Raj had contracted the novel coronavirus or not. However, he was discharged from the hospital by the time the panel could conduct an examination. 

The doctors and members of the hospital’s management were still being questioned at the time of writing. CCB sources said that four teams have been formed to nab Sampath Raj and that the last location of his mobile was in Kerala. A team of sleuths had gone to Kerala on Saturday evening to look for him, the police said. 

The CCB on Saturday also conducted raids at Sampath Raj’s house in Cox Town. The police said that Sampath Raj allegedly hired a taxi driven by his former driver before he left Bengaluru. 

“He is an accused in the case and when we find him, he will be arrested,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said. 

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