Teams of the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Bengaluru City Police probing the MLA ticket fraud case arrested the seer Abhinav Halasree — one of the top accused in the case — from a moving train in Cuttack in Odisha on Tuesday, 19 September.
CCB teams had been closely pursuing the seer, named Accused no 3 in the case, as he had been on the run ever since the arrest of Hindutva hardliner Chaitra Kundapura.
She is the prime accused in the case of cheating Bengaluru-based industrialist Govinda Babu Poojary out of ₹5 crore on the pretext of getting him a BJP ticket for the Karnataka Assembly polls, which were conducted in May.
This, even as a new case of cheating was registered against Chaitra in the Udupi district of Karnataka.
The seer’s ruse
Abhinav Halasree had dumped his saffron robes and was dressed in a T-shirt, a pullover, and shorts while travelling in the passenger train, said the police. Preliminary inquiries revealed that he was headed to Varanasi to evade arrest.
It could have been a difficult task for the cops to identify a seer among the lakhs of pilgrims and tourists who visit Varanasi, police sources told South First.
The cops added that he would have had a further advantage: No one would ask the seer why he had come to Varanasi.
According to CCB sources, Abhinav Halasree was tracked to Cuttack while he was using a newly purchased mobile phone and a SIM card, with which he attempted to call one of his associates from his matha in Hosapete in the Ballari district of Karnataka.
Chaitra Kundapura had told reporters earlier that the seer would drop big names once he was arrested.
The CCB officials arrested Abhinav Halasree with the help of the Cuttack police. He was being brought to Bengaluru on Tuesday night, a senior CCB official told South First.
Fresh case against Chaitra
Meanwhile, fresh trouble seemed to be brewing for Chaitra, with a 33-year-old fisherman from the Brahmavara taluk in the Udupi district of Karnataka filing a cheating complaint against her with the Kota police station.
The fisherman is said to have alleged that she conned him out of ₹5 lakh on the pretext of opening two clothing stores in Udupi.
The complaint was lodged on Monday, and the cops have since registered an FIR, booking Chaitra for cheating and criminal intimidation.
Sudeena, a resident of the Kodi village, alleged in his complaint to the police that Chaitra, being a Hindutva activist, promised him in January 2018 that she would place orders for buntings and flexes — to be used in Hindutva events in the coastal district — from him.
She also promised to help him open two Khadi Bhandar shops, one in Kota and another one in Udupi, he added. Subsequently, Chaitra demanded ₹5 lakh for the opening of two shops.
“I transferred ₹3 lakh to her bank account and gave her ₹2 lakh in cash. But I soon learnt that she had opened a clothing store on her own. When I asked her about my two clothing shops, she told me that she was using her store as the godown for all the Khadi Bhandars, and would soon open two shops for me. I believed her and waited, but nothing happened. Then, when I started demanding my money back, she began threatening me,” Sudeena told South First.
Sudeena initially thought his hard-earned money was gone for good, and was beginning to make peace with it as it was becoming difficult for him to go against the Hindutva activist.
“However, when I learnt that a cheating case had been registered against her in Bengaluru, I decided to file a complaint with the police as she should not be doing this to so many people,” Sudeena told South First.
The Kota police would have to wait until the CCB finished interrogating Chaitra before they took custody of her.
Chaitra Kundapura: From speech against Islam to hiding in a Muslim home
Chaitra faked seizures
Meanwhile, Chaitra was proving to be a flawless actor not only in front of her victims like Poojary but also in front of the CCB officials, police sources told South First.
Chaitra, according to the CCB officials, developed epileptic seizures on Friday while being interrogated. Froth was seen coming out of her mouth while she was being taken to Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru.
However, medical examinations conducted at the hospital along with MRI scans apparently did not show any evidence of epileptic seizure episodes.
CCB sources hinted that the froth and foam that came out of her mouth could be from a bar soap she was carrying from the state-run women’s remand home.