Karnataka’s former Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who had to step down from the Cabinet following the suicide of a contractor who had accused him of corruption, has been given a clean chit by the police.
Claiming to have found no evidence for abetment of suicide by Mr. Eshwarappa in the death of Belagavi-based contractor Santosh Patil, the Udupi police on Wednesday filed a ‘B report’ in the case. The contractor was found dead in a hotel in Udupi on April 12 morning.
The 85-page-long report was filed before the 42nd Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bengaluru, which is the special court for cases against elected representatives. Sources said the police secured a report from the Forensic Science Laboratory that said the death of Patil was a result of consumption of pesticide.
Meanwhile, asked if he would be re-inducted to the Cabinet now, a relieved Mr. Eshwarappa told reporters in his home town Shivamogga that it was the party’s leaders at Delhi and State leadership who would decide on it.
Phone records probed
According to police sources, the Udupi police filed the ‘B report’ following a detailed examination of all persons associated with Mr. Patil and Mr. Eshwarappa. The police examined the 10 mobile phones, including two mobile phones of deceased and his two friends. The police went through the WhatsApp chat, audio and video files in these mobile phones. Except for the statements of Mr. Patil’s brother and his wife, there was no independent evidence or witnesses showing abetment to suicide by Mr. Eshwarappa, said police sources.
Some witnesses told the police that Mr. Patil was under pressure from creditors to return the money he had spent on roadworks. Witnesses also said the deceased was under pressure regarding the defamation case filed by Mr. Eshwarappa.
Letter to PM
Santosh Patil had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming to have invested ₹4 crore on building roads in his village in Belagavi district based on oral instructions of Mr. Eshwarappa. He had asked Prime Minister to direct Mr. Eshwarappa to settle his bills. Accusing the Minister of lies, corruption and irregularities, Patil further alleged that he had to offer ₹15 lakh in bribes in the Rural Development Department to get payment for his bills.
On April 12 morning, Patil was found dead in his room in a lodge in Udupi. He had checked into the lodge on April 11 night along with his two friends. He was staying separately in a room, while his two friends were in another room. Following a complaint by his brother and wife, the Udupi Town police registered a case of abetment to suicide against Mr. Eshwarappa. Three days after the incident, Mr. Eshwarappa resigned from the Cabinet.