Dues pending for two years, Karnataka contractor seeks mercy killing over 40% commission

Letter comes to light at a time a suspended police inspector's death kicks up a cash-for-postings row, putting the Bommai government in a spot.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Oct 31, 2022 | 9:00 AM Updated Oct 31, 2022 | 11:26 AM

CM Bommai at the council

Even as controversy over the Karnataka Chief Minister’s Office slipping cash envelops in Deepavali sweet boxes to journalists rages on, a plea for mercy killing has put a new dent in the BJP government’s image.

In a letter to President Droupadi Murmu, a government contractor from Hubballi has sought “mercy killing”, or permission to kill himself. The letter came to light a day after the Congress demanded a judicial inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of a suspended police inspector.

Karnataka Minister for Municipal Administration MTB Nagaraj was purportedly caught on camera suggesting that the inspector, who was suspended for dereliction of duty, was under stress due to the lakhs of rupees he paid as a bribe for a posting.

2 letters to PMO, 2 visits to CMO to no avail

The 34-year-old contractor from Hubballi, Basavaraj Amaragol, in a letter dated 20 October, has accused the state government of refusing to pay up dues for over two years for works he had undertaken.

In his plea for “mercy killing”, Amaragol has alleged that bills worth ₹61 lakh are still pending, rendering him penniless to pay rent, loan EMIs and other liabilities.

Opposition party Congress on Sunday picked up Amaragol’s letter to continue its tirade against the Basavaraj Bommai government.

Amaragola's Letter to the president

Amaragola’s Letter to the president

Amaragol, a business contractor and proprietor of Amaragol Group, is a resident of Manoj Park Sulla road.

Speaking to South First, Amaragol said he was awaiting a response from President Murmu as his “last resort”.

“This letter is my final resort as I had written to the PM’s Office thrice, but in vain. Visited CMO twice and even personally met with Basavaraj Bommai once. He signed a letter with his green ink and instructed his personal assistant to check on the issue,” Amaragol said.

However, when the chief minister’s letter was forwarded to the concerned officials of the respective gram panchayats, Amaragol said, they began to demand commissions.

“When the file reached gram panchayats of Kadur and Mudigere taluks in Chikmagaluru district, the executive officer of the taluk panchayat — Devaraj Naik — demanded a commission of 10 to 12 percent for himself and further sought 15 percent in the name of Kadur MLA KS Prakash of the BJP and another 15 percent commission to release total bill amount of ₹61 lakh,” Amaragol alleged.

The contractor also shared a phone recording where the official is purportedly heard demanding commission.
South First attempted to contact the officer, but our calls remained unanswered. The CMO’s media office also refused to comment on the letter.

Basavaraj Amaragola, the Hubballi contractor who has written to the President requesting mercy killing

Basavaraj Amaragola, the Hubballi contractor who has written to the President requesting mercy killing

Amaragol had supplied Covid-19 product consignments such as gum shoes, masks, hand gloves, goggles, fogging machines, spraying machines, and re-usable PPE kits to 41 of the 56 gram panchayats Kadur. Consignments worth up to ₹85 lakh were supplied, he said. Of the ₹85 lakh, Amaragol said that ₹24 lakh was paid over the past two years in monthly and bi-monthly part-payments, but after that payments stopped.

In Mudigere, Amaragol said his pending bills are around ₹24 lakh.

In his letter, the contractor has alleged that vendors who supplied material to him have started harassing him for money which he is unable to pay as the government hasn’t paid him.

Amaragol has sought mercy killing after trying to approach the courts, and writing multiple times to the Prime Minister’s Office and approaching the Chief Minister’s Office.

KPCC President DK Shivakumar in a press conference on Sunday demanded that those involved in corruption in Amaragol’s case should resign immediately.

Related: Congress’ ‘PayCM’ QR code leaves Bommai fuming

Own minister’s ‘cash-for-posting’ comment kicks up row

Amaragol’s letter came barely a day after Karnataka’s minister and Basavaraj Bommai’s Cabinet colleague MTB Nagaraj sparked off a row over the unfortunate death of a police inspector. Already reeling under charges of corruption, the fresh allegation came as new headache to the Bommai government.

The 42-year-old police inspector from KR Puram police station, Nandeesh HL, died of a cardiac arrest days after he was suspended for dereliction of duty. Nagaraj, in a video, purportedly said that the deceased inspector had paid ₹70-80 lakh for his posting and was under stress when he was suspended.

Congress quoted the BJP minister to allege a cash-for-postings scam in the state and demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter.

Red-faced, Chief Minister Bommai on Sunday said an inquiry would be ordered after collecting details from the DG and IGP of Karnataka Praveen Sood.

“There is no question of thinking twice in regard to holding an inquiry into inspector Nandeesh’s death,” Bommai said.

Related: Marred by corruption taint, BJP preps ‘Naxal’ trap for Congress

What the minister said

In videos that have now gone viral, Nagaraj is purportedly seen lashing out at the Bengaluru city police commissioner for suspending Nandeesh even as the deceased inspector’s wife wailed at the hospital.

KPCC President Shivakumar tweeted that the videos were evidence of the “40% commission government”.

“The BJP government says that police inspector Nandeesh died of a heart attack, but this is a murder by the government,” Shivakumar alleged.

“All that he did was allow a bar and restaurant to function beyond stipulated hours. No one should have been punished with a suspension for this. Will the wife get her husband back? Will his son get his father back? The system has killed him. Big fishes are out there doing a lot of wrongdoings and they want to go after the small ones, punishing them big way,” Nagaraj says in the video.

With the videos of the minister going viral, even JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has demanded a thorough probe on the alleged cash-for-posting scam highlighted by a senior minister from the government.