Karnataka minister Shivakumar grilled for 2nd day by IT officials

Bengaluru: Karnataka Water Resource minister D K Shivakumar cried foul Friday after he and his aged mother were grilled by Income Tax department officials for six hours in connection with alleged tax evasion by him.

“I have not done anything wrong. I am confident of getting justice. I am an accused in the case…my only anguish is that my 80-year-old mother was interrogated for six hours,” Shivakumar told reporters.

According to the I-T officials, the questioning of both the minister and his mother began at 11 am and continued till the evening. Shivakumar was grilled for three hours on Thursday also.

“I have no answers to questions on why the raids were carried out at the time of assembly elections and now when the Lok Sabha elections are nearing. Last time also when I was summoned soon after returning from the hospital, I gave all the answers. I have been receiving multiple notices which I cannot explain now,” he said after coming out of the Income Tax office.

Shivakumar said the I-T officials were cordial with his mother Gowramma and gave her due respect. However, his grouse was that she was questioned for six hours. Shivakumar, a frontline Congress leader in the state, was summoned for questioning on Thursday as part of a “routine process” following searches at various properties linked to him on 2 August, department sources said.

The minister had already appeared before I-T officials twice in July and August last year. The searches were conducted after Shivakumar hosted 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs at a resort on the city outskirts to forestall alleged attempts by the BJP to poach them ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, which the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel won.

Last September, the Enforcement Directorate had registered a money laundering case against him and some others for allegedly indulging in hawala transactions. The I-T department had charged Shivakumar and his associate S K Sharma of transporting “huge” amounts of unaccounted cash on a “regular basis” through hawala channels with the help of three other accused.

The other accused are Sachin Narayan, Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah and N Rajendra. Narayan is a business partner of Shivakumar and Sharma is the proprietor of Sharma Transports, which runs a fleet of luxury and passenger buses and provides transport services to various concerns and individuals on rental basis, the IT department had said in its complaint.

Hanumanthaiah, an employee posted at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, was allegedly responsible for storing and handling unaccounted cash of Shivakumar in the national capital, it had said.

Rajendra, a caretaker at Karnataka Bhavan, also works for Sharma, apart from looking after the immovable properties of Shivakumar and Sharma, it had said. Unaccounted cash of about Rs 20 crore was seized during raids in New Delhi and Bengaluru last August and I-T officials had said the money was “directly relatable” to Shivakumar.

Shivakumar, however, claimed the I-T department was targeting him and not letting him “breathe,” but asserted he would fight the case legally. A special court had granted him conditional bail in this case some time back and will hear the matter again on 20 September.