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HomeIndiaContractor found dead in Karnataka hotel room, 'suicide note' blames minister Eshwarappa

Contractor found dead in Karnataka hotel room, ‘suicide note’ blames minister Eshwarappa

Santosh Patil had accused minister Eshwarappa of demanding 40% 'commission' on completed work. He went missing from Belagavi Monday and his body was found in an Udupi lodge Tuesday.

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Bengaluru: Weeks after he accused Karnataka minister K.S. Eshwarappa of demanding a 40 per cent bribe on a completed contract, a government contractor from Belagavi was found dead Tuesday.

It’s suspected that Santosh Patil — also an office bearer of the Hindutva outfit Hindu Vahini — committed suicide. 

Belagavi Police had begun searching for Patil after his family filed a missing persons complaint Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, his body was found at a lodge in Udupi.

On Monday night, a suicide note was allegedly sent from Patil’s phone number to journalists and friends via WhatsApp. In it, Patil purportedly holds Eshwarappa, Karnataka’s rural development and panchayat raj (RDPR) minister, to be solely responsible for his death. 

Screenshots of this message have been making the rounds on social media.

“RDPR minister K.S. Eshwarappa is solely responsible for my death. I am taking this decision keeping my aspirations aside. I request with folded hands to our prime minister, chief minister, our beloved Lingayat leader BSY (former Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa) and everybody else to extend a helping hand to my wife and kids,” reads the message, received at 11.37 pm Monday.

The Udupi Police have registered a case of unnatural death, and investigation is underway.

Eshwarappa distanced himself from the alleged suicide. “I filed a suit against him because he made baseless allegations and defamed me. He should have responded in court. I have nothing to do with this suicide,” the minister told reporters Tuesday.

While Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivakumar demanded a judicial inquiry into the contractor’s death, Patil’s family have called for Eshwarappa’s arrest.
“We hold Eshwarappa alone responsible for this. He should be arrested immediately. Santosh has a child barely one year old. He is from a middle-class family and borrowed heavily to complete the road works Eshwarappa had asked for. We want justice,” Prashant Patil, Santosh’s elder brother, told reporters Tuesday.

Patil’s death comes in the backdrop of the Karnataka State Contractors Association accusing the government of demanding commissions of up to 40 per cent on tenders.

Harassment for ‘commission’

In a letter viewed by ThePrint, dated 11 March, Patil had written to Giriraj Singh, Union minister of rural development and panchayati raj, detailing the harassment he allegedly faced from Eshwarappa’s associates for bribes.

Patil claimed that, trusting oral assurances from Eshwarappa, he had spent Rs 4 crore on roadworks, but neither the official work order nor his bills had been cleared for more than a year.

“Minister’s associates also annoying (sic) me to provide them commission for the completed work,” Patil had alleged in his letter, warning that he may have to resort to suicide if the funds are not released.

Later, Patil in multiple media interviews had accused Eshwarappa directly of demanding a 40 per cent bribe in order to issue the work order and clear the payment for a project completed in 2019.

Eshwarappa vehemently rejected Patil’s allegations. “I have filed a defamation case against the contractor for baseless allegations,” he told reporters on 29 March. The minister added that the works Patil had undertaken were neither approved by the RDPR department nor directed by it.

Attacking the government over Patil’s death, opposition leaders have demanded police action against Eshwarappa. 

During a press conference Tuesday, Siddaramaiah, leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly, said, “Santosh had clearly said in his suicide note that he was driven to suicide by K.S. Eshwarappa. He must be booked for murder. This unfortunate death has exposed how corrupt this government is.”

Also read: After Reddy brothers, it’s Jarkiholis. But many Karnataka BJP leaders are upset by their rise


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