CITIESTOP NEWS

Ex-Mayor used driver’s phone to dial riot suspects, says CCB

Former mayor R Sampath Raj had stayed put on MM Road in Fraser Town for over two hours during the time when riots broke out in DJ Halli and KG Halli on August 11. He had no apparent reason to do so, the CCB says.

Raj, arrested on Monday night after being on the run for weeks, is accused of orchestrating the arson attack on the residence of Congress MLA, R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy. A large crowd had assembled outside Murthy’s residence in protest against a Facebook post uploaded by his nephew P Naveen Kumar on Prophet Muhammad. The CCB believes Raj plotted the violence as he considers Murthy his political rival, although they belong to the same party.

The CCB says it has gathered “crucial information” about the riots by questioning Raj in custody over the last two days. On Thursday, a court gave the CCB another day to question him in custody, as against its request for three days of custodial interrogation. The CCB hopes to question Raj for a few more days and is likely to move an application in the court on Friday.

On Thursday, the CCB took Raj for an inspection of a few places connected with the case. “We may need his custody for some more time to complete the procedures,” said a senior police officer who’s part of the investigation.

Another senior officer said they had dug out data on the phone calls that Raj had made during the riots. He used to his chauffeur’s phone to ring up many people involved in the riots and had stayed put on MM Road for more than two hours, an unusually long time because he wasn’t running any particular errand there, the officer said.

“We have strong technical evidence about his role in the attack. We questioned him about the phone calls, what he was doing on MM Road and why he used his chauffeur’s phone,” the officer added.

The former mayor was first questioned days after the riots but when the CCB summoned him the second time in October, he said he had tested positive for Covid-19 and got himself admitted to a hospital. The CCB asked the hospital to inform it before discharging Raj but the management apparently failed to do so. Raj is believed to have escaped from the hospital sometime in October.

On his disappearance, the former mayor is said to have told the CCB that his legal advisors had promised to get the FIR quashed or procure an anticipatory bail for him. He spent the time in farmhouses and temples in Tamil Nadu and once visited the Kerala border, the officer added.

Another senior police officer said they had identified all the people who allegedly sheltered Raj and that some of them would be made prosecution witnesses in the case.

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