Telangana phone tapping: Cop claims judges also snooped on

Hyderabad, May 29 (IANS) The previous BRS government snooped on high court judges and lawyers also, one of the arrested police officers has revealed during his questioning, said sources on Wednesday.

Startling revelations are coming to light in the case on an almost daily basis, shedding light on how the entire operation was orchestrated in the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB) under the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government.

After former Deputy Commissioner of Police P. Radha Kishan Rao, the confessions of two suspended police officers N. Bhujanga Rao and M. Tirupathanna have come to light.

Additional SP (suspended) Bhujanga Rao claimed that the Special Operations Team (SOT) in SIB under Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Praneeth Kumar and directly supervised by then SIB chief and former Deputy Inspector General Prabhakar Rao used to monitor and put surveillance over student union leaders and caste organisation leaders, journalists, High Court judges and advocates handling important cases of government and party leaders.

“The SOT in SIB under Praneeth Kumar directly supervised by Mr Prabhakar Rao also used to monitor and put surveillance over student union leaders and caste organisation leaders who are critical of BRS government; journalists and high court judges and advocates who are having important cases of government and party leaders; etc., to find out more details about their personal lives and their activities so that they can be influenced or countered at appropriate times,” said Bhujanga Rao, who also named a High Court judge.

During all important occasions and also whenever BRS was facing a crisis, the SOT used to put surveillance over all important leaders and associates leading the protest or criticism against the BRS party.

Phones of Congress and BRS supporters were also tapped during elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, by-elections to Dubbaka, Huzurabad and Munugode Assembly seats.

Ever since the phone tapping case came to light in March, details have emerged of how the BRS government allegedly snooped on leaders of Congress and BJP and others considered as potential threats.

However, the confessions of the arrested police officers have revealed that the phone-tapping operation was used to serve the interests of the then-ruling party at various levels. They alleged that BRS monitored its leaders in some districts as they were seen as a threat to party interests due to conflict with their own party colleagues.

Praneeth Rao, Bhujanga Rao, Tirupathanna and Radha Kishan Rao were arrested in March and they are all in judicial custody. Three of them reportedly recorded confession statements in April but they came to light during the last two days.

The officials claimed that during elections including the recent Assembly elections held in November 2023, funders of Congress and BJP were tracked and cash was seized from them.

Bhujanga Rao and Tirupathanna gave details of such seizures.

They also alleged that businesspersons in the real estate and construction sectors were arm-twisted to provide financial support to BRS. A realtor was forced to purchase electoral bonds to the tune of Rs 13 crore.

The SOT also kept surveillance on businesspersons, companies and VIPs having conflicts with their rivals and ‘settlements’ were made through alleged blackmailing tactics.

N. Bhujanga Rao was posted as additional superintendent of police in SIB during the BRS regime.

Radha Kishan Rao, a former Hyderabad task force DCP who was associated with the SIB, claimed that then Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) wanted to arrest BJP national general secretary B. L. Santosh in BRS MLAs poaching case to force a compromise and get rid of the Enforcement Directorate case against his daughter K. Kavitha.

The former cop revealed that in the last week of October 2022, then SIB chief Prabhakar Rao discussed with him that CM KCR got information from one MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy that some persons claiming to be influential in BJP are in touch with him asking him to leave BRS and join BJP along with some more MLAs.

KCR wanted to use it to corner the BJP and asked the SIB to put surveillance on those private persons and the MLA. As per the plan, the MLA enticed the private persons to come to a farmhouse near Moinabad, where spy cameras were fixed.

Radha Kishan Rao revealed that due to the inefficiency of some Cyberabad police officers, KCR did not succeed in his plan to arrest Santosh.

The political information was allegedly provided to the team tasked with phone tapping by then SIB chief Prabhakar Rao, journalist Sravan Kumar and another private person.

Bhujanga Rao and Tirupathanna claimed that a plan was prepared to somehow make sure that BRS wins a third term in power.

The phone tapping came to light in March when a case was registered with the Panjagutta police after a petition was filed by additional SP, SIB D. Ramesh.

Praneeth Rao, who had allegedly destroyed the data after the Congress party came to power, was first to be arrested.

The police have named Prabhakar Rao as the main suspect. Arrest warrants have been issued for him and Sarvan Kumar. Both are believed to be in the US.



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