Udupi: A First In-formation Re-port (FIR) has been registered at Udupi Town Police Station against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister K.S. Eshwarappa after Santosh K. Patil, a contractor, who had accused the Minister of demanding commission for road construction, was found dead at Shambhavi Hotel in Udupi, with the cause of death suspected to be suicide.
“Udupi Police registered the FIR on the basis of a complaint filed last night by the contractor’s family. The Minister has been booked under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code for abetment to suicide. Two of his aides have also been named in the FIR. Their names are Basavaraj and Ramesh,” Udupi Police said.
Patil had checked into the hotel with two friends on Monday. His friends, who were in another room, alerted the hotel staff when Patil failed to respond to knocks. He was found dead when the staff opened the room with a spare key.
Santosh Patil, besides being a contractor, identified himself as the National Secretary of the Hindu Vahini, a right-wing group. Patil had accused Eshwarappa of demanding 40 percent commission to clear the bills for road works taken up at a cost of Rs. 4 crore in Belagavi’s Hindalga village.
Patil had raised allegations against Eshwarappa, saying that the BJP leader had been harassing him for commissions to clear the bills for contracts he had implemented for the Government over a year ago. Patil had also said that Eshwarappa should be held responsible if something happened to him.
The Karnataka State Contractors Association had also accused the BJP Government of demanding 40 percent commission for public works.
Last WhatsApp by Patil
A purported suicide note sent via WhatsApp by Patil to some friends in Kannada read: “Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who is responsible for my death, should get appropriate punishment.”
The note urged Prime Minister Modi, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to help his wife and child.
Patil had earlier written to Modi about the allegation against Eshwarappa and had travelled to Delhi where he met Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh, BJP General Secretary in charge of Karnataka Arun Singh and party Organising Secretary and RSS leader B.L. Santosh.
Giriraj’s Ministry had sought a clarification from Eshwarappa but it is not known if the party had taken up the issue with the Karnataka leadership.
Minister maintains innocence
Meanwhile, Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who was in Mysuru yesterday, said that he had no idea who Santosh Patil was and reiterated that the contractor had not been engaged by his Department. “I got to know from the media that he has named me in the suicide note. I don’t know anything else. I don’t even know who he is. I don’t know what kind of work he has done.”
The Minister said he had no clue about Patil’s allegation about the demand of cuts or that the contractor had taken up 108 projects, and said Patil should have approached the court where the defamation case had been filed against him.
Patil had said he had undertaken the projects without any work order but on the basis of Eshwarappa’s oral assurances. Patil had added that he had taken huge loans to complete the work and was under intense pressure from his creditors.