Dharwad: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday arrested former Karnataka Minister and Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni after questioning him for over eight hours in connection with the murder case of BJP Zilla Panchayat member Yogeshgouda Goudar in 2016.
A CBI official told IANS, “Kulkarni has been formally arrested in the evening after his questioning for several hours. He was produced in a Dharwad court.”
Earlier in the day, the CBI team reached the house of the Congress leader in Dharwad and brought him 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 the wife of the slain BJP worker.
In June, the CBI had examined Pandu Rangrane (the retired Commissioner Hubli, Dharwad), Jinendra Khanagavi (the then DCP Dharwad and presently Superintendent of Police Security Division, Bengaluru), and Mallikarjun Baladandi (the then DCP Crime and Traffic, Dharwad and presently Additional Superintendent of Police, Haveri) at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in Bengaluru.
“These policemen were the supervisory officers in Dharwad during the investigation of the 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 of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was hacked to death, reportedly over a property dispute in his own gym in Saptapur, Dharwad on June 15, 2016.
Following a plea by the elder brother of Yogeshgouda, Gurunathgouda, the case was handed over to the CBI for investigation. Gurunathgouda had been making several allegations against some police officials and Vinay Kulkarni, who was the Mines and Geology Minister in the Congress-led government. 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 to work on the case.
In June 2017, an audio recording of Vinay Kulkarni’s alleged conversation laced with threats over the phone 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.