news Friday, July 24, 2015 - 05:30
  It has now been nearly three months since people in Karnataka caught the first whiff of a scandal in the Lokayukta. After many twists, turns, protests and politicking, the investigation is underway. After an initial delay, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to investigate allegations of internal corruption in the Lokayukta is cracking. It is slowly putting together the pieces of the alleged extortion racket operating possibly in collusion with officials of the institution. At the centre of it all, is Lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao himself, whose son has been accused in the scam. The alleged dramatis personae The SIT has arrested three individuals in the last few days, and reports claim that it has summoned Rao’s son Y Ashwin Rao to appear before it by Friday. Ashwin Rao is likely to face arrest in the coming days.  On Tuesday, the SIT arrested Rajajinagar resident and real estate agent Ashok Kumar, who is allegedly one of the crucial links in the racket. According to a Bangalore Mirror report, Ashok would procure many SIM cards by providing fake addresses and which would be distributed among members to make calls to government officials and threaten them. A day later, former journalist, with a Kannada news channel, MB Sreenivas Gowda and his associate VB Shankare Gowda were arrested. Officials on Wednesday detained Hotte Krishna, another accused in the case and was questioned, reported Tv9. Accessing a confidential report prepared by a Lokayukta police official a day before SIT took over, Bangalore Mirror reported that private individuals doubled up as RTI activists, journalists and real estate agents were also  active in the case. It also names Ashwin Rao, Krishna Rao, V Bhaskar alias 420 Bhaskar, Sreenivas Gowda, Krishna also known as Hotte Krishna aka KAIDB Krishna, Shankare Gowda, Narasimha Rao, Naresh, Vasu, Sadiq and others were reportedly named. The names of Joint Commissioner (Public Relations) Syed Riyaz’s name and some of his subordinate constables also figure in the report.  Modus Operandi Preliminary investigations have so far unraveled a partial modus operandi reportedly carried out by three teams: An individual named Mahesh who is employed at a government office and reportedly a relative of Shankare Gowda helped him by leaking information on irregularities in civic works, tenders, purchases etc. Sreenivas (arrested journalist) and his associate Shankare Gowda filed RTIs against government officials involved in these works. Based on the information and documents received, they would decide on the sum to be demanded from their “target”. They would use different SIMs (allegedly procured by Ashok Kumar) to ring up the government officials, threatening to file complaints against them and conduct raids if they failed to pay the bribe. It is suspected that for major cases gang members would pose as Joint Commissioner of Lokayukta Riyaz and threaten officials over the phone. A meeting would then be set up in various locations, including on the Lokayukta premises such as the PRO’s chamber, conference hall, the Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao’s house in Sadashivnagar and posh hotels in the city. They would also collect money at these places.
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