Hubballi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday detained prominent Congress leader and former minister Vinay Kulkarni in Dharwad on Thursday in connection with murder of BJP leader and Zilla Panchayat member Yogeshgouda Goudar.
Kulkarni has been in the forefront of the movement demanding separate religion status for Lingayat community, which was founded by the 12th century saint and social reformer Basavanna.
The fight for minority tag for the community has been tug of war between Congress and BJP as the saffron party leaders have been vehemently opposing the demanding by claiming that both Lingayat and Veerashaivas are one and the same.
Many Lingayat leaders, including former home minister and Congress leader MB Patil who slammed BJP's political vendetta against Kulkarni for leading the agitation demanding minority tag for Lingayats.
The demand for Separate Lingayat religion status had become poll issue for Congress during Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018 and several BJP national leaders, including the then national president Amit Shah had campaigning against it. Political analysts claim that the Congress suffered debacle in the Assembly elections due to its demand for minority tag for Lingayat community.
The detained Congress leader is also close confidante of the Opposition leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Yogeshgouda, who had switched over to BJP to become ZP member from Hebballi constituency, was brutally murdered at his gym at Saptapur in Dharwad city on June 15, 2016 by group of unknown persons. The Hubballi-Dharwad police had arrested Congressman Basavaraj Muttagi and six others on June 17 that year, accusing them of murdering Gouda over a land dispute.
Not satisfied by the police action, the members of Gouda’s family including his wife Mallamma, had demanded CBI inquiry into the case, accusing the then Dharwad rural MLA Kulkarni of masterminding the murder.
The erstwhile Congress government, which did not budge to the demand for CBI probe, had handed over the case to CID. The CID had concurred with the findings of local police and named Basavaraj Muttagi and six others as accused.
Meanwhile, Gurunathgouda, elder brother of the slain BJP leader, and his mother Tungamma, had approached the high court seeking direction to the state government to hand over the case to CBI. But the high court rejected their plea.
With the change of guard in Karnataka, the BS Yediyurappa led BJP government handed over the probe to CBI last year. With CBI stepping up the investigation, it nabbed seven members who had allegedly been hired to eliminate Gouda.
CBI team on Thursday picked up the Congress leader from his residence and questioned him for more than eight hours. The CBI team visited the house of Vinay, located at Shivagiri in Dharwad, as early as 6 am and asked him to appear before them at Sub Urban police station for interrogation.
Flanked by his daughter, Vinay reached the police station in his car at 7 am and appeared before the CBI. Meanwhile, another team of CBI picked up Vijay Kulkarni, the younger brother of Vinay, from his residence in Hubballi.
The detained Congress leader was shifted to Hindalaga jail in Balagavi as precautionary measures due to protest by the Congress workers in Dharwad. The 3rd additional session court judge justice H Panchakshari sent the Congress leader for one-day judicial custody....