Hindutva hardliner Chaitra Kundapura and five of her seven accomplices have been arrested for allegedly conning Rs 5 crore out of a businessman by promising him a BJP ticket to contest the Karnataka Assembly elections in May.
While Kundapura was arrested from Udupi late on Tuesday, the five accused have been held from different locations in the state. Police are on the lookout for a seer named Abhinava Halasri Swamiji and another accomplice.
A former television anchor whose Facebook page still describes her as a “journalist”, Kundapura is known for her fiery speeches against minority communities and their practices.
A Central Crime Branch team brought her to Bangalore and recorded the arrest as the case was registered at a local police station. A city court on Wednesday remanded all of them in 10 days' police custody.
The arrests were made based on a complaint lodged by city-based businessman Govind Babu Pujari, who accused Kundapura and her accomplices of promising him a BJP ticket to contest the Byndoor Assembly seat in Udupi district.
The FIR names Kundapura as the first accused followed by Gagan Kadur, Abhinava Halasri Swamiji, Ramesh, Naik, Dhanraj, Srikanth and Prasad Byandur. They have been booked under IPC Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 170 (personating a public servant), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
According to the complaint, Kundapura convinced Pujari that she could use her contacts with the top leadership of the RSS and the BJP to give him a party ticket for the Byndoor seat. The financial transactions that began last year continued till March this year.
She allegedly told Pujari that the money was handed over to an RSS leader named Vishwanath who would do what was necessary to get him the party ticket. But he grew suspicious when she told him in March that Vishwanath had died.
Upon cross-checking, Pujari figured out he had been conned as there was no one named Vishwanath among RSS leaders. He realised that the person whom Kundapura had introduced as Vishwanath during their meetings was Ramesh, one of her accomplices.
Pujari demanded his money back from Kundapura and her associate Gagan Kadur and lodged a police complaint when they stopped responding.
According to the complainant, he had handed over Rs 1.5 crore to the seer at the behest of the non-existent Vishwanath and a total of Rs 3.5 crore to Kundapura.
Senior BJP leader and former home minister Araga Jnanendra warned the Congress government against “targeting” Hindu youths. “Let there be an investigation if she has cheated someone, and be punished as per law. But we will not sit quietly if Hindu activists are targeted unnecessarily,” he told reporters.