Bengaluru: The special investigation team (SIT) probing the multi-crore IMA Jewels scandal on Monday detained senior Congress leader and legislator from Shivajinagar, R.Roshan Baig from Bengaluru International Airport for his alleged role in the scam, adding to the ongoing political drama in Karnataka.
Baig’s arrest comes hours after IMA main accused, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, who is currently in hiding outside India, released a video on Monday stating that he would be in Bengaluru within 24 hours.
Baig was detained when he was to board a private charter to an unconfirmed destination, senior police officials who were aware of the developments said on Monday.
However, the case took a political turn as chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy said that Baig was being escorted by people associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), adding to the current resignation drama that has threatened to bring down the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka.
“Today SIT probing the #IMA case detained @rroshanbaig for questioning at the BIAL airport while he was trying (to) leave along with @BSYBJP's PA Santosh on a chartered flight to Mumbai. I was told that on seeing the SIT, Santhosh ran away while the team apprehended Mr. Baig," Kumaraswamy wrote on his private Twitter handle on Monday.
“BJP MLA Yogeshwar was present at the time there.Its a shame that @BJP4Karnataka is helping a former minister escape, who is facing a probe in the #IMA case. This clearly shows #BJP' s direct involvement in destabilizing the govt through horse trading," he added in the second tweet.
Senior police officials said that it will be verified whether Baig’s sudden plan to leave Bengaluru is anything to do with Khan’s video.
Baig is among 16 other coalition legislators who have resigned since 1 July and most of them are currently lodged in a Mumbai hotel. The legislators are being pursued by both the Congress and JD (S) to return before the confidence motion, moved by Kumaraswamy, comes up for discussion on Thursday.
Khan had named prominent politicians and other personalities in his two videos released so far. On 23 June, Khan had named senior Congress leader K. Rahman Khan and JD(S) legislator T. Sharavana among others of running a campaign to end the company. Another Congress minister, B.Z.Zameer Ahmed Khan is being questioned by the SIT for his alleged role in the scandal.
“CM @hd_kumaraswamy is using the state machinery to save his govt now. Mr. Roshan Baig was given time till 19th July to appear before SIT. This shows how the state Govt is blackmailing and treating their own MLAs’ using the institutions," the state BJP wrote on its official twitter handle on Monday.
The BJP rushing to defend a Congress leader, raising more doubts on its role in the episode.
The SIT has arrested B.M. Vijay Shankar, Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate, Bengaluru Urban, for allegedly taking a ₹1.5 crore bribe from Khan.
Khan has said that he will name all the conspirators who extorted money from him and even claimed that his life was in danger since his revelations were about prominent and powerful people.
Baig, and four others, have moved Supreme Court on Saturday and had given individual affidavits claiming they were being pressured to support the coalition government with the threats of disqualification.
"I state that in order to keep the coalition Government afloat, the honorable speaker, presumably has been pressurised against acceptance of the resignation and as a result I am compelled to continue as a member of Karnataka legislative assembly and to support the corrupt government against my will," Baig said in his affidavit on Saturday.