Karnataka Revenue Minister and BJP leader R Ashoka’s ambiguous statement about whether or not his son Sharath was in the Mercedes Benz that killed two people in Karnataka’s Ballari district has raised several questions. Even as the Ballari police repeatedly denied that Sharath was not in the car, a picture of an injured Sharath, sitting in a dark grey pickup vehicle has raised questions on whether the police were helping cover up his alleged involvement in the accident.
In addition to the picture, the pathologist at the Ballari Government General Hospital, Dr Mahantesh has stated that he was asked to perform the autopsy on Sachin, one of the passengers of the car who had been killed in the accident, and informed that the deceased was someone close to R Ashoka.
In the picture that has now gone viral, an injured Sharath’s right hand is placed on the side of the grey pickup. His wrist is injured with blood covering his palms. However, TNM was not able to confirm whether the picture was taken on February 10, the day the accident occurred.
On February 10, a red Mercedes Benz car that was travelling on the national highway at around 2.45 pm on Monday rammed into a tea stall in Karnataka’s Ballari district. The car dragged along with it an 18-year-old man named Ravi Nayaka, who was drinking tea at the stall in Mariyammanahalli village when the accident happened.
Ravi was killed instantly while Sachin, a passenger sitting in the front seat of the car later succumbed to his injuries.
“The PSI (referring to the sub inspector of Mariyammanahalli Police Station) asked me to perform the autopsy as soon as possible. He said that Sachin, the person who was brought dead, was associated with minister R Ashoka. He did not say if Sachin was a relative but he said that the case is on priority. We don’t generally perform autopsies at 1.30 am but on humanitarian grounds I did it,” Dr Mahantesh said.
Did the Ballari Police deliberately omit Revenue Minister R Ashoka's son's name from the FIR in the accident case? The doctor from the govt hospital says that he was made to perform the autopsy early in the morning after cops told him that Sachin was associated with the minister. pic.twitter.com/ewxuQ4TwHG— Theja Ram (@thejaram92) February 13, 2020
When TNM contacted Ballari SP CK Babu and asked him about the picture and the doctor’s testimony, he only said that the matter is under investigation.
Although road accidents on national highways are not uncommon instances, this case in particular has gathered attention as there are several allegations of the police omitting the name of one person in the FIR -- that of Sharath, son of Karnataka Revenue Minister and BJP MLA from Padmanabhanagar -- R Ashoka.
According to the FIR, Rahul, a 29-year-old resident of Bengaluru’s Jalahalli was behind the wheel. The impact of the accident has grievously injured fellow passengers Shivakumar, Rakesh and Varun- all of whom have been named in the FIR.
Eyewitness accounts to the media, however, have alleged that Sharath was in the car when the accident occurred. The car is registered to National Public School in Bengaluru according to vehicle registration records.
“The car tried to maneuver around a lorry that was parked on the side of the road but the driver lost control and rammed into Ravi. It dragged him for some distance and also toppled a board. An ambulance came later and took Ravi’s body. The car passenger’s (Sachin) body was taken by a new SUV that came to the scene later,” an eyewitness told Public TV.
However, the Ballari Police on Thursday said that Sharath was not in the car and only four people were in it including Shivakumar, Rakesh and Varun, who were in the car with Sachin.
Minister R Ashoka was unavailable for comment at the time of writing the article.