Row over alleged tapping of phones of Railway minister's aides

A controversy erupted on Friday over reports that the city police had allegedly ordered tapping of telephones of five associates of Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda with the Congress government denying any knowledge of it and BJP demanding a high-level probe into it.

Bangalore: A controversy erupted on Friday over reports that the city police had allegedly ordered tapping of telephones of five associates of Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda with the Congress government denying any knowledge of it and BJP demanding a high-level probe into it.

"I do not have any information on the phone tapping having been ordered by our police on five aides of Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, but I will look into the matter," state Home Minister K J George told reporters here.

A media report said police allegedly ordered phone tapping, including that of Gowda's brother, from September 5 to 11, when the minister's son Karthik Gowda was reported absconding after a Kannada starlet filed a police complaint with accusations of rape, kidnap and cheating against him.

It also reported that Gowda's associates had protested, saying it was invasion of their privacy and a larger ploy to bring disrepute to the image of Railway Minister.

Speaking to reporters here, Gowda said the tapping could have been done to find out whether he was influencing the witness in the alleged case.

"I have nothing to say about phone tapping on my associates. May be, it was done to find out whether I was influencing the witness," he said.

However, it was wrong to speak anything before charge sheet was filed in the case, he added.

Slamming the government over alleged tapping, senior state BJP leader Suresh Kumar it was not only a violation of privacy laws but also an attempt to crush the BJP.

Kumar said Gowda is a former chief minister and now a Union minister and if police had wanted, they should have summoned the five persons for inquiry.

The Intelligence department was being handled by the Chief Minister himself and tapping the phones without his knowledge was not possible, he said.

Another state BJP leader and former Home Minister R Ashok said the very act of the police to tap the phone is illegal. "This very phone tapping is illegal."

A magistrate court had issued arrest warrant against Karthik but the sessions court granted him anticipatory bail after which he had appeared before police for questioning.

The actress had claimed she and Karthik got married at Gowda's residence in Mangalore in June. Her claim came on the day Karthik got engaged to another woman at Kushalnagar in Kodagu district.

Her allegations caused severe embarrassment to Sadananda Gowda who has maintained all along that law will take its own course.  

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