Bengaluru, Dec 2: Former minister Varthur Prakash and his driver were allegedly kidnapped on November 25, brutally assaulted and held to ransom by a gang of eight kidnappers who had demanded Rs 30 crore for their release. Preliminary investigations revealed that Prakash had a dispute over a piece of land and had received threat calls, a senior police officer said.
However, unverified accounts also point to the abduction being linked to the ex-minister’s involvement in cattle trade as he owes huge amounts to farmers and traders in Tamil Nadu from whom he had purchased cattle.
Prakash, in his complaint filed on Tuesday, alleged that on November 25, he and his driver Suneel were at a farmhouse located in Begli Hosahalli in Kolar and had left in his SUV to reach Kolar. Around 7pm, a gang of eight came in two cars and blocked his SUV.
The gang allegedly threatened the duo with lethal weapons and forced Prakash into one of their vehicles. The men tied their hands and legs and demanded `30 crore. Prakash and his driver were assaulted inside the car when the former refused to give them money even as they were driven around Chintamani, Hoskote and around Bengaluru.
Prakash’s kidnappers on the run: Police
Unable to take it any more, Prakash allegedly contacted his friend Nayaz, asking him to bring Rs 48 lakh in cash. The kidnappers took the cash in Kolar, but again resorted to torturing Prakash and his driver until midnight. In the wee hours on November 27, his driver Suneel lost consciousness.The gang assumed him to be dead and pushed him out of the car.
The police said that Suneel regained consciousness after a while and managed to escape. Fearing they would be caught by the police, the kidnappers took Prakash to an open ground near Shivanapura and threw him out of the vehicle. Passersby helped Prakash to a hospital in KR Puram where he was treated.
Prakash’s abandoned Toyota Fortuner SUV was found near the Halanahalli graveyard in Bellandur with at least 1 kg of chilli powder strewn around in the vehicle. Prakash and his driver sustained severe cut injuries on their legs.
Whitefield DCP D Devaraj told The New Indian Express that an FIR has been registered. The kidnappers had reportedly blindfolded Prakash and Suneel. Two special teams have been formed to nab them and CCTV footage has been obtained to track movements of the vehicles used by the gang.Varthur Prakash, hailing from the backward Kuruba community, was elected back-to-back for two terms from Kolar Assembly constituency between 2008-2018 and is leader of the Namma Congress Party. He was minister in the BJP government headed by D V Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar.
His brother Ramanand confirmed that he had been abducted and released.Incidentally, on January 30, 2018, Kolar Rural police had registered an FIR against six persons, including Varthur Prakash, then MLA of Kolar, in connection with grabbing land belonging to a Dalit family by creating fake documents and threatening their lives.