India Exposed: In Karnataka, self-styled defenders of Kannada pride seek bribes to allow Sunny Leone events

05:25  12 january  2018
05:25  12 january  2018 Source:   India Today

Exposed: In Karnataka, self-styled defenders of Kannada pride seek bribes to allow Sunny Leone events

  Exposed: In Karnataka, self-styled defenders of Kannada pride seek bribes to allow Sunny Leone events Exposed: In Karnataka, self-styled defenders of Kannada pride seek bribes to allow Sunny Leone eventsIn the run-up to the vote, factions of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, ostensibly the staunchest proponents of Kannada identity, have been at the forefront of various demands for the primacy of the local language over Hindi.

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As identity politics peaked in Karnataka ahead of assembly elections, an India Today investigation has found several outfits running what appears to be brazen extortion rackets in the guise of Kannada pride.

In the run-up to the vote, factions of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, ostensibly the staunchest proponents of Kannada identity, have been at the forefront of various demands for the primacy of the local language over Hindi.

In December, groups under the banner of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene forced the state government to ban actor Sunny Leone's proposed New Year programme in Bengaluru, calling it an assault on Kannada culture.

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But India Today's investigation caught senior office-bearers of the main factions of the KRV - led by Narayana Gowda and Praveen Shetty - soliciting heavy bribes to allow future Leone events in the state capital.

'WE WERE ABLE TO SHUT DOWN THE ENTIRE STATE'

Anjanappa, vice-president of Gowda's KRV, bragged about the outfit's muscle power when India Today's reporter met him at his office in Bengaluru while posing as the star's publicist.

"Those who protested are all my boys. Those who came to demand cancellation of Sunny Leone's event are all my men. They belong to my village," he boasted. "Those who came to disrupt the programme are all my men. They came because I had ordered them to. Ours is a very big network in the state. With one statement, we were able to shut down entire Karnataka.

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  Exposed: In Karnataka, self-styled defenders of Kannada pride seek bribes to allow Sunny Leone events © Getty Images Anjanappa soon offered paid protection for any event Leone might like to hold in Bengaluru in the future.

"I will be present there in person. Our group leaders, each supported by teams of 10 to 15 people, will come there to give protection," he guaranteed.

When the undercover reporter probed about his fee, Anjanappa quoted a big amount.

"Big money will resolve the matter. Do one thing. Let it be Rs 30 lakh in advance and Rs 10 lakh after (the show)," demanded the KRV leader.

Asked if he had taken his boss Narayana Gowda into his confidence, Anjanappa claimed he had.

"I have come after speaking with him (Gowda)," Anjanappa insisted. "Give Rs 30 lakh to him....To my boss, in advance."

'PAY ME RS 15-20 LAKH IN ADVANCE'

India Today also investigated the other key faction of the KRV headed by Praveen Shetty.

R. Punith, vice-president of Shetty's group, asked for Rs 30 lakh for a Leone event in Bengaluru.

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"You do the event. We will fully support it. At least 300 of our men will stand guard there on the day of the event," he bragged.

"Take as many men as you want, 100, 200. They will stand guard there. Take police barricading as well. If there are any outsiders, protestors or media, our men will take care of them. Our people will be there to help you till the event ends."

Punith demanded half of his protection fee in advance.

"Pay me Rs 15-20 lakh in advance. The rest after the programme," he said.

The KRV leader also went the extra mile, offering two-acre space for a Leone programme on Valentine's Day.

"Such events are super successful in the electronic city. The venue will be mine," he said.

"Let's have a Sunny Leone programme on Feb 14, Valentine's Day," the undercover reporter proposed.

"Do it. Give me a share in the profits. Give me a percentage share as you would give to others," Punith replied.

(Written by Harmeet Shah Singh)

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