Shimoga, May 9: After a week-long hide and seek game, former Food and Civil Supplies Minister Hartal Halappa was on Sunday arrested by the State CID on charges of alleged rape and criminal intimidation, forcing the Karnataka BJP unit to distance itself from him.
Soon after appearing before CID sleuths probing the case and examined for his alleged involvement in the sexual assault of a friend’s wife more than four months back, Halappa was taken into custody and subjected to interrogation.
The CID also secured the cell phone he used, although in the course of his examination the former minister furnished some documents to his interrogators.
He was produced before Third Judicial Magistrate Srinivas Gowda’s court where a bail petition filed a few days ago will come up for hearing on May 11. Halappa has been remanded to judicial custody for a day. Sources said the CID will oppose Halappa’s bail petition before filing a charge sheet within a month.
A setback for the party
Halappa’s arrest is a setback to the State BJP whose leaders, including Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, had loudly proclaimed his innocence after a rape case was lodged against him in Shimoga.
The arrest, preceded by his appearance before the district superintedent of police, has embarrassed the party which has now distanced itself from the tainted leader.
Preferring not to comment on the development, a visibly upset Yeddyurappa said, “I have nothing to say about it” when queried by the media at his home office, Krishna.
When contacted, State BJP chief K Eshwarappa quickly distanced himself from the mess that Halappa finds himself in, saying: “It is his (Halappa’s) personal case. The party has nothing to do with it. By surrendering before the police, he has done his duty.”
Halappa, who went missing after cases under various sections of the IPC, including 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation), were filed against him by Chandravathi, who has alleged the Minister raped her, arrived at the Shimoga SP’s office from Bangalore around 2 pm. He was accompanied by his advocate Ashok Bhat.
CID sleuths interrogated Halappa for five hours and recorded his statement. Many policemen were deployed at the SP’s office. The entry of people as well as the media was restricted during the course of the interrogation. But that did not prevent a drama outside where a curious crowd had gathered to watch Halappa’s appearance before the CID. Soon after his arrival, Halappa was taken to McGann Hospital for a medical check.
Otherwise a jocular person, Halappa avoided speaking to the media and appeared tense and anxious when he reached the SP’s office. He complained of chest pain during the medical check and subsequently, medical superintendent Dr K Mahendrappa conducted pulse rate and blood pressure tests on him.
His advocate told Deccan Herald that Halapa was not absconding. “He voluntarily appeared before the police,” Bhat said.