In a pre-dawn swoop, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday raided residences and an office of some people linked to senior Congress leader and MP D K Suresh, brother of senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar, at five places in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and Ramanagara for alleged illegal exchange of demonetised currency notes in 2016.
The raids took a political hue with Shivakumar, an MLA, and his MP brother Suresh calling it a 'vindictive act' by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre to frame them.
The CBI said the raids were carried out on charges that Corporation Bank chief manager B Prakash at Ramanagara, in connivance with 'unknown others', had illegally exchanged Rs 10 lakh of scrapped currency notes with new ones on November 14, 2016.
Prakash and others are also accused of trying to cover up this act by fabricating requisition slips.
The residence of a man named Padmanabhaiah allegedly linked to Suresh in Bangalore Rural, Shivananda, Deputy Tehsildar, Nanjappa incharge of electoral card in SDM office in Kanakapura, and Election Cell office in Tehsildar office were part of search.
It is alleged that 120 duplicate voter IDs were issued from Tehsildar office, without any request from voters, between 10-11, November 2016 which were used to exchange the notes. The demonetisation was announced on November 8, 2016 and banks remained closed on November 9.
These voter ids were submitted in the bank by Padmanabhaiah to exchange Rs 10 lakh worth of demonetised notes, the CBI has alleged.
These voter cards were printed by misusing the login id, hologram and facsimile stamp of the tehsildar, the agency alleged.
'Searches are being conducted at five places in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and Ramanagara which includes Election Cell, Kanakapura and an office at Ramanagara and three residences of the election cell in-charge Shivananda, election cell clerk Nanjappa and one Padmanabaiah.
'Padmanabaiah had allegedly exchanged the SBN notes in the bank,' the CBI said in a press release.
The CBI stated that a case against Prakash and officials of Corporation Bank and others had been registered on April 7, 2017.
Suresh said search warrants had been issued by a special CBI court against 11 people, including him, but expressed ignorance about the charges.
He alleged the central government was targeting him and his brother Shivakumar.
'Main targets are me and my brother DKS and nobody else. By targeting others, they are trying to reach us. I have no idea who these 11 people are," said Suresh.
He said he was ready for legal recourse against the 'vindictive action'.
"We have been targeted by BJP, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. They have given a clear instruction to the government of India officials, like CBI, I-T and ED. Some sources told us that they all had a meeting three-four weeks ago. Through some messengers we got the information," Suresh said.
Shivakumar, who was instrumental in keeping the Congress MLAs together at a resort and hotel in the recent political drama in Karnataka against alleged poaching bid by the BJP to muster numbers, said he won't succumb to any pressure.
"If somebody thinks that they can force me and my family to bend before them by threatening us, we are not the ones who will succumb to their pressure. We are ready for any challenge. We had an inkling about these problems," said Shivakumar.
"Officials under the BJP rule should not forget this phase is not going to be permanent and nobody is immortal. Neither is anybody going to remain in power forever, nor your powers will be permanent. You have been given powers for a while. So do not act as a puppet in somebody's hand to trouble others," said Shivakumar.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Siddaramaiah condemned the CBI raids, alleging that the Centre had been targeting Congress leaders but it will not succeed.