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Karnataka Lokayukta's son arrested by SIT in Rs 1 cr bribery case

Sleuths of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) today arrested Ashwin Rao, son of Karnataka Lokayukta Justice V Bhaskar Rao, for allegedly seeking Rs.1-crore bribe from a state executive engineer.

“A SIT team led by our Superintendent of Police Laburam nabbed Ashwin Rao at Aurangabad in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. He will be brought here soon on transit remand,” a senior officer told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Aurangabad is 330km from Mumbai in the neighbouring state.

The SIT, headed by additional director general of police (ADGP) Kamal Pant, was set up by the state government on June 30 on the Lokayukta’s request to probe graft charges levelled against a few unidentified officials of the watchdog and the bribe charge against Ashwin Rao.

Ashwin Rao’s arrest came hours after Lokayukta’s joint commissioner Syed Riyaz was nabbed in Bengaluru on Sunday night.

Lokayukta’s Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang named Ashwin and Riyaz in the first information report (FIR) she registered on July 1 along with that of others, including three accomplices whom the SIT arrested last week.

The accomplices are Ashok Kumar, a realtor, Shanakare Gowda, an RTI activist, and Srinivasa Gowda, a TV journalist with a Kannada news channel here.

State public works department executive engineer MN Krishnamurthy in a complaint to Narang on May 11 alleged that Ashwin Rao had sought Rs.1-crore bribe from him through Riyaz and Kumar by threatening to book a graft case against him and raid his premises if he did not pay up the ransom.

A division bench of the Karnataka high court on July 1 stayed the FIR on a writ petition by Ashwin Rao, but allowed the SIT to probe into the graft charges.

“Preliminary investigation and interrogation of three suspected extortionists revealed that Riayz was one of the kingpins in threatening many officials of booking graft cases and raiding their premises if they did not pay ransom,” the officer recalled.

The SIT is also on the lookout for Riyaz’s brother-in-law Sadiq in the state’s Malnad region for allegedly being part of the extortionist ring in the anti-graft institution.

Lawyers have protested the alleged corruption, and advocate KV Dhananjay had filed a writ petition to take the investigation out of the hands of the Lokayukta’s internal police force.

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