K'taka Congress leader's PA commits suicide due to 'tax raids'

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 12, 2019 16:32 hrs

"Ramesh, 38, was found hanging by a tree branch in the Bengaluru University campus earlier in the day. He was under pressure after the Income-Tax sleuths quizzed him in connection with the tax raids on Parameshwara since Thursday," party spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS here.

A security guard of the university in the city's southwest suburb spotted Ramesh's body hanging on the tree and alerted the local police.

Ramesh, who hails from Ramanagaram town, about 40 kms southwest of Bengaluru on the state highway towards Mysuru, leaves behind his parents, wife and a son.

Condemning the raids on Parameshwara and another veteran party leader R.L. Jalappa, the party's state unit KPCC (Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee) tweeted that the "I-T dept (department) claims second victim in (the) state after (V.G.) Siddharth".

"Harassment from @BJP4India controlled I-T dept has claimed life of Ramesh. In its rush to pester (the) opposition, they (I-T officials) have surpassed all levels of humanity and repeatedly exceeded its (their) mandate. This is condemnable & unheard of," tweeted the KPCC.

Cafe Coffee Day founder-chairman Siddharth reportedly committed suicide on July 29 by jumping from a road bridge into a river near Mangaluru on the state's west coast, allegedly due to harassment by tax sleuths.

Expressing condolences, the KPCC said in another tweet that "Ramesh was allegedly harassed & hounded to commit suicide by (the) I-T dept, which is unleashing a tax terrorism on the common man.

"The I-T dept in cahoots with @BJP4India have a one-point agenda, which is to target opposition leaders & harass innocent people," said the party.

Expressing shock over Ramesh's tragic death, Parameshwara told reporters at his residence here that he had advised the former not to unduly worry over the raids and his grilling by the tax sleuths and nothing would happen to him.

"Ramesh met me earlier in the day at my residence and narrated the harassment he faced from the tax sleuths during the last two days when they took him to our educational institution's office at Tumakuru and questioned him about some irregularities in admissions and transactions. I told him not to take to heart what happened and go home and rest," recalled Parameshwara.

Ramesh worked as a computer operator at the KPCC for over a decade and became Parameshwara's PA since he relinquished the party's state unit president's post five years ago and became a minister in the previous Congress government.

Parameshwara, 68, was the Deputy Chief Minister in the 14-month JD-S-Congress coalition government.

Tax sleuths raided the properties of Parameshwara for the alleged tax evasion by Siddhartha group of education institutions owned by him and his family at Tumkuru and Nelamangala in Bengaluru Rural district.

Ramesh's death occurred a day after the I-T department said in a statement from New Delhi on Friday night that Rs 4.22 crore in unaccounted cash was found during the raids on Parameshwara and Jalappa since October 10.

"Rs 89 lakh was also found in the house of the main trustee," said the department in the statement, without taking Paremeshwara's name.

According to I-T Commissioner Surabhi Ahluwalia, the total undisclosed income detected (during the search and seizure operation) so far is around Rs 100 crore, considering the cash donations received for 185 seats (in the Siddhartha medical college at Tumakuru), averaging Rs 50-65 lakh per seat and total seizure of undisclosed assets of Rs 8.2 crore.