Bengaluru:Hundreds of Congress workers and supporters of senior party leader DK Shivakumar, who was released on bail from a Delhi prison in a money laundering case, gave him a grand welcome as he landed at the city airport on Saturday afternoon.
The 57 – year-old Vokkaliga strong man, who has his own support base in parts of old Mysuru region of Bengaluru Rural, Ramanagara, Mandya and the neighboring areas, was greeted by supporters with flowers, crackers and a mammoth apple garland upon his arrival.
Shivakumar said he was “confident”, “strong” and would fight for justice. The former Minister also claimed that he has not betrayed anyone at any point of time and would come out with facts and documents regarding the case in the days to come.
“If my brother, myself and my family members had gone against the law, I’m ready to accept any punishment … If I have done wrong let them hang me … but I won’t remain silent, “Shivakumar said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said, “I won’t go against my conscience .. I don’t want to trouble or cheat anyone. I don’t need such life. I come from a village. “
“There’s no question of going back. I will fight. Time and law will give answers. I’m personally confident,” he said adding he and his will power has grown stronger.
“I will fight for justice,” he added.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy and Congress leaders from Kanakapura, Shivakumar’s home constituency, were present at the airport. He was brought to the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office here from the airport in a procession as he waved and acknowledged supporters from an open car.
“About 500 supporters, including state Congress leaders, greeted him at the airport and accompanied him in a convoy to the party office.There he was accorded a hero’s welcome, “said party spokesperson Ravi Gowda.
Shivakumar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on September 3 in the money laundering case and walked out of Tihar Jail after 50 days on Thursday on conditional bail granted by the Delhi High Court. His arrest had led to widespread protest, especially in Ramanagara, Bengaluru rural, Mandya and other parts of old Mysuru region.
It had even taken a caste color, with thousands of people belonging to the Vokkaliga community taking out a protest rally here against the arrest and to express solidarity with him.
Shivakumar was in custody in connection with a case under the Prevention Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, filed on a complaint by the Income-Tax Department, which had seized Rs 8.6 crore cash from his flat in New Delhi in August 2017.
“The central government misused law enforcing agencies, like the ED, the I-T Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation to harass our senior leader Shivakumar,” said state Congress chief Dinesh Gundurao.
The Karnataka High Court on August 29 rejected Shivakumar’s plea for interim protection against arrest in a ‘hawala’ case.
The alleged money laundering came to light after raids by the tax sleuths his premises in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and New Delhi on August 2, 2017. Cases were filed against him and four others under sections 277 and 278 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and sections 120 (B), 193 and 199 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Shivakumar was a Cabinet Minister in the previous JD-S-Congress coalition government (May 2018 – July 2019) and Energy Minister in the Congress government (2013 – 2018).
Meanwhile, the Karnataka BJP in a tweet criticized the welcome and questioned the Congress party’s mindset.
What would be the mindset of a Political Party that accords a Hero’s welcome to its leader released from Jail on massive Corruption and Money Laundering Charges?
– BJP Karnataka (@ BJP4Karnataka)October 26, 2019
Former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde said instead of boycotting corrupt people, they are being honored. The former Supreme Court Judge also said, personality cult of honest people was fine, but if those corrupt are worshipped, then it is “wrong”.
“We are seeing it; I don’t want to take any names. We are seeing it, not only here, other places also. Instead of boycotting them, we are honoring them. we have to change such a society, “Hegde said in response to a question about those released from jail being given a grand welcome.
Speaking to reporters, he stressed on the need to instill values in the society, so that people themselves start working towards bringing in the change. “Earlier same society used to boycott the corrupt, it is not the same today … we are seeing it every day what is happening,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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