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'Whistleblower' Karnataka official dies; probe intensified

Last updated on: May 20, 2012 16:29 IST

Five days after he was allegedly attacked, a Karnataka official, said to be a whistle-blower in some controversial land allotments by societies, died at a private hospital on Sunday.

Karnataka Administrative Service officer, S P Mahantesh, whose condition turned critical yesterday, died following a cardiac arrest, hospital sources said.

"Mahantesh heart stopped at 5.30 am. We tried our best to revive him, but failed", a doctor, who refused to be named, said.

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said the probe into the murder has been intensified and the accused would be nabbed soon.

"The incident is unfortunate and has hurt the sentiments of the people and the government," he said, adding, the family would be sanctioned solatium.

Karnataka Home Minister R Ashok said the police have got some clues.

"The police are investigating the case and are looking at certain angles to nab killers," he told reporters.

"Government is doing everything to provide justice to the family members of Mahantesh, he added.

DCP (North East) Ravikante Gowda said the police has formed four teams to nab the killers and has got "some important clues."

48-year-old Mahantesh, who suffered head injuries in the alleged attack by unidentified persons on May 15, had been on life support system since the last two days.

He was found unconscious near a hotel here while returning home in his car and shifted to the hospital after passerby noticed him and informed his family.

A top police official said lack of eyewitnesses and a defunct CCTV at the traffic junction near the hotel, where the body was found, has hindered investigation process. Besides, the hotel cameras had been removed due to renovation work.

"..... Also, at this juncture we are unable to ascertain if it is an attempt to murder or a case of road rage," he said.

Meanwhile, a person who has moved the court in connection with a cooperative society scam told reporters that he was also threatened by some people and demanded protection for whistle-blowers.

Asked for his reaction on the episode, former Infosys HR Director Mohandas Pai said: "This is a classic case where a person stood up for the truth and was done in and there is no protection for him...what happens to his family?"

"We need much more vigorous policy, honest police force and political system," he said.

Mahantesh, known for his integrity, was working as Deputy Director of the Audit wing in the state's Cooperative department and had reported irregularities in different societies involving some officials and political figures.

This is the second death of an official of the state government after Assistant Conservator of Forest, Madan Naik, who was assaulted by a group of tourists at Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district on May 6.

Naik was attacked when he objected to the tourists feeding crocodiles in a private resort.

The government has ordered CID probe into Naik's death and the police have arrested six persons in this connection.

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