Political rivals of Congress MLA D.K. Shivakumar, particularly those who supported his Janata Dal (Secular) rival P.G.R. Sindhia, are huddling together in fear after his victory in the Assembly elections.
Those who crossed over from the Congress to the JD(S) in the weeks before the polls allege that Mr. Shivakumar’s men, led by his brother D.K. Suresh, have unleashed a wave of terror on them with the help of the district administration and the police.
JD(S) activist G.H. Prakash (48) claims that his experience is a prime example of this political vendetta.
“On the day Mr. Shivakumar finally decided to take oath as member of the Assembly , more than 200 of his goons came to my house armed with swords and threatened my family,” alleged Mr. Prakash whose family was with the Congress for three generations before shifting loyalties.
The next day, the same gang allegedly returned with earthmoving machinery and dug a six-foot deep trench around Mr. Prakash’s house. When The Hindu visited the house on Saturday, his family members claimed that the women of the household had not been able to go out since the trench was dug.
‘Police don’t budge’
Mr. Prakash’s son Arun Gowda (25) says he and his father rushed to the Kodihalli police station, less than 50 m away, to get help, but the policemen did not budge. Although local residents such as Putte Gowda (60) claim that there was a huge ruckus on the day when Mr. Shivakumar’s men came, the policemen at the station told The Hindu that they weren’t aware of any dispute. “We were away to provide security for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,” one policeman finally said after requesting anonymity. Did all the policemen from the station leave for security work? “We left only two sentries behind. What could they have done?” said another.
Mr. Gowda said the police refused to even file an FIR based on their complaint, a copy of which he shared with The Hindu. He also claimed he was waylaid outside the SP’s office when he tried to raise the matter.
Anupam Agarwal, SP Ramanagaram, said the matter had come to his notice. “We are still investigating. No matter what the political backing, we will enforce the law.”
Some local journalists claimed that Mr. Suresh’s men attacked their cameras when they tried to report the incident. “We are just stringers (freelancers), sir. We need to live here. We cannot take such risks,” said one reporter who requested anonymity. But why this degree of hostility? “This is the political culture of this place, thanks to Mr. Shivakumar. My supporters are afraid that they might be attacked or even killed for campaigning against him,” said Mr. Sindhia when telephoned for a response.
“We launched an aggressive campaign against him (Mr. Shivakumar) during the elections. We knew that we would not win. So, the thrust of our campaign was on exposing his electoral malpractices,” said Raju Garalapura, a former Congressman and gram panchayat member, who switched over to the JD(S). He says the MLA’s supporters were particularly angry when their electoral malpractices were exposed. “We collected several watches with his photograph that had been distributed to voters and gave them to a television channel,” said Ulsoor Siddharaju, who campaigned against Mr. Shivakumar.
Narayan Gowda the former gram panchayat president and another veteran Congressman said he decided to opt out of campaigning as he was unhappy with Mr. Shivakumar’s alleged illegal activities. “I was attacked outside my house by jubilant supporters of Mr. Shivakumar who were returning from the counting centre on the day he was declared winner,” he alleged. Kumar (48) said that after the Congress came to power, his property was fenced off by Mr. Suresh’s men. “I defected...that was their punishment,” he said.
Repeated efforts to contact Mr. Shivakumar yielded no response.