CBI detains ex-K’taka Minister Kulkarni in 2016 murder case
Dharwad (Karnataka), Nov 5 (IANS): The Central Bureau of Investigation reportedly detained former Minister and Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni on Thursday for questioning about his alleged role in the murder of BJP Zilla Panchayat member Yogeshgouda in 2016.
According to sources, Kulkarni was taken to Dharwad Town Police Station, where the murder case was first registered by the police.
The CBI team has already questioned Vijay Kulkarni, the younger brother of the former Minister, his close aides, few Congress leaders and also Yogesh’s wife.
In June, the CBI had examined Pandu Rangrane (the then retired Commissioner Hubli, Dharwad), Jinendra Khanagavi (the then DCP Dharwad and Presently SP Security Division Bengaluru), and Mallikarjun Baladandi (the then DCP Crime and Traffic Dharwad and presently Additional SP Haveri) at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in Bengaluru.
“These policemen were the supervisory officers in Dharwad during the investigation of Yogeshgouda murder case by the local police in 2016,” said a source, privy to the investigation.
The police had registered a case against six accused, who are all residents of Dharwad. After taking over the investigation on September 24 last year, the CBI arrested eight persons, of whom seven are in judicial custody and one is out on bail.
In May, the CBI also filed a charge sheet against the eight people. The investigation agency said the accused had allegedly come to Dharwad on two occasions in June 2016 and with the support of the other accused allegedly planned the crime.
Earlier, the Karnataka Police had filed a charge sheet in the murder case on September 9, 2016.
Yogeshgouda, then a Zilla Panchayat member from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was hacked to death by a group of five or six men, reportedly over a property dispute, in his own gym in Saptapur, Dharwad in June 15, 2016.
Following a plea by elder brother of Yogeshgouda, Gurunathgouda, the case was handed over to the CBI for investigation. Gurunathgouda had been making several allegations against the top officials and Vinay Kulkarni, who was then the Mines and Geology Minister in the Congress-led government in the state. Gurunathgouda had even accused Kulkarni and his associates of threatening him and at the same time also trying to strike truce.
He had also alleged tampering of evidence in the case. The BJP leaders too had demanded a CBI inquiry, alleging involvement of the Congress leaders, including the then Minister Vinay Kulkarni.
While the then Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah declined to hand over the case to the CBI, the present BJP-led government got the CBI working on the case.
In June 2017, an audio recording of Vinay Kulkarni’s alleged conversation laced with threats on the telephone with the advocate representing the BJP leader’s family went viral. The audio clip coincided with Kulkarni’s plunge into the agitation for the separate religion status for Lingayats, which was almost a year before the crucial 2018 Assembly polls in Karnataka.