BENGALURU:(SEEDHIBAAT NEWS SERVICE) The CBI probe into the phone tapping case has revealed that it wasn’t just 720 hours of conversations of Adichunchanagiri Mutt pontiff Nirmalananda Swami that were allegedly tapped, but that phones of seven other seers and their close aides were also intercepted during HD Kumaraswamy’s tenure as the coalition government chief minister.

Highly placed sources said the other seers whose names have come out during interrogation are Rambhapuri Swami, Siddalinga Swami of Siddaganga Mutt, Deshikendra Mahaswami of Mysuru Suttur Mutt, Niranjanananda Swami of Kanakapura Peetha, Madarachennaiah Swami of Chitradurga, Jayamrutyunjaya Swami of Kudalasangama and Siddarameshwara Swami of Bhovi Gurupeetha.

“A total of 720 hours of conversation of Nirmalananda Swami were illegally intercepted. This was revealed during the interrogation of former police commissioner Alok Kumar. Phones of other pontiffs and their aides too were tapped during CM Kumaraswamy’s tenure,” sources said. The phone of the influential seer of the dominant Vokkaliga community was allegedly intercepted as a case of mistaken identity.

It was revealed during the CBI investigation that an ACP-rank officer in the technical cell had generated a report for tapping Nirmalananda Swami’s phone by adding his number to a list of suspects in a red sanders smuggling ring. Interestingly, sources said, the phone conversations were recorded and later allegedly sent to the WhatsApp accounts of either of Kumaraswamy’s personal secretaries, Raghu or Satish.

The phone call recordings of the pontiffs and their aides allegedly began immediately after the coalition government was formed. “Though everything looked fine in the coalition, it was obvious that there was severe unrest within. All the pontiffs whose names were revealed have a major influence on leaders of the JDS, BJP and Congress,” said a highly placed source.

It was also revealed that interception of pontiffs’ phones allegedly peaked after March. According to sources, the chief minister got an intelligence tip-off that many JDS and Congress leaders were meeting some of these pontiffs to express their dissatisfaction with Kumaraswamy’s governance, and former PM H D Deve Gowda’s interference.

Phones of Lingayat pontiffs also tapped

ANOTHER revelation was that Nirmalananda Swami was very close to one of the Gowda BJP leaders, and was supporting Mandya MP Sumalatha during t h e elections. “It isn’t just pontiffs, but several other people who were close to them, whose phones were intercepted. In a few cases, the names were pushed into lists of smugglers and drug traffickers,” said an officer. The phones of some Lingayat pontiffs were also allegedly tapped. These are highly influential pontiffs, and several Lingayat leaders from the coalition government had met them during the period when the phones were tapped.

CBI to send HDK notice soon

Though the former CM has denied his role in the phonetapping case, the CBI sleuths will soon send him a notice to appear for questioning. According to sources, after Alok Kumar’s revelation about Kumaraswamy’s personal secretaries Raghu and Satish, who had reportedly given a list of phone numbers to be tapped, the CBI found all reason to call Kumaraswamy for questioning. “A notice might be served soon to Kumaraswamy and the two personal secretaries in the phone-tapping case. If the secretaries acknowledge that they gave the details to senior police officers on the instructions of Kumaraswamy, it might be difficult for the former CM to escape from the case,” explained a senior officer.

Wife Anitha too?

Interestingly, there were reports and statements by a few political leaders that Raghu and Satish had also got Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha’s phone tapped. However, The New Indian Express could not confirm this.

-TNIE

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