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Rajyotsava Racketeering

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On Saturday, Collin Timms, MD of Pecos Hotels and Pubs Private Limited, a son of the soil himself - a Mangalorean, filed a complaint with police commissioner Shankar Bidari seeking protection. The restaurateur, who is also the chairman of COMMITS, a media and mass communication college, told Bangalore Mirror that around 8.30 pm on Friday, a man named Kannada Somu, who claimed to be from Kannada Samrakshana Sangha, came with 10 of his men to MOJO.

“Somu demanded a donation of Rs 10,000 from our restaurant in-charges, Srinivas and Satish. They offered to make a reasonable donation provided a legitimate receipt was issued. However, the man refused to accept anything less than Rs 10,000, failing which he threatened to return with his supporters and damage the premises and assault staff and customers,” Timms said. “I have the highest respect for Kannada culture and literature, but it is distressing to see certain people making use of the occasion for personal gains. If it is for a genuine cause, I am ready to donate as per my capacity. I am ready to do charity, but I won’t let anyone extort money from me.”

Apart from filing a complaint with the police commissioner, Timms also reported the matter to the Ashokanagar police station. “The police have assured me that they will look into the matter. Since the threat was of a serious nature, I sought protection. The outside of MOJO is built of glass; just a stone thrown at it will be enough to damage the premises. I had expected Somu and his men to return for the money on Saturday night, but they did not,” Timms said.

Srinivas, the resturant in-charge, said Somu and his supporters frequently visited the restaurant and harassed customers. Inspector Radha Krishna of the Ashoknagar police station said, “Timms filed a complaint with us. We summoned Somu to the police station on Sunday morning, and warned him.”

RS 5-CRORE BUSINESS: Extortion in the run-up to the Kannada Rajyotsava is a major racket in Bangalore. Not just the over 1 lakh retail outlets in the city pay up to unscrupulous elements masquerading as Kannada activists, software companies, big builders, educational institutes and private medical institutions too cough up the dough. Sources in the police said the extortion racket clocked between Rs 4 crore and Rs 5 crore every year.

A city businessman said, “It is a parallel money-spinning sector that is growing at a rapid pace. In this racket, rowdy elements operate with the backing of both political and police power. The targets are usually the rich, mostly those hailing from outside Karnataka. They name an amount, and if anyone protests, he is threatened. As no businessman wants to take any risk, the money is delivered. There had been instances of the police playing the negotiator in disputes over donation amounts.”

The police said they were powerless to act against the racketeers. “Most of these extortionists enjoy political patronage. One of them, operating in the central business district, moves around distributing pamphlets, bearing photographs of the chief minister and another powerful minister,” a police officer said.

For the full report in the Bangalore Mirror, click here

Firstly, one needs to compliment Mr Collin Timms for his courage, the Bangalore Police for the timely action, and Bangalore Mirror for exposing such racketeering. Such racketeers cause the biggest harm to the state, as much as the types involved in this. Fortunately, there are many others propagating the language and culture the right way - check this.

Muralidhar Rao


Nags123's picture

Rajyotsava/Ganesha /annamma devi celebration

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Along with Rajyotsava rowdy elemnts collect money for Ganesha /annamma devi celebration.  ( Annamma devi celebration may limited to outskirts which are now part of BBMP)

Following some of the experiances of saying "NO" :

I happen to meet a person at car puncture shop  about 8 weeks back. He refused pay forced donation for Ganesha utsav. Few days later, his cars all 4 tyres were pierced with sharp needle and unusable. He was using tubeless tyres, he came to type shop buy tubes so that he can manage without buying new tyres.

If group of people barges to your house compound for money collection, pls keep eye on them till them go away/vacate your compound. (normal tendency here is say no & close the door) . This will give them  good opprtunity to break some of items like mirrors of veicle parked  ..etc.  This happened to one of my friend in  koramangala.





murali772's picture

highly damaging

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Speaking at a conference of Bangalore Kannada Associations organised by Kannada Geleyara Bala, well-known researcher Dr M Chidananda Murthy said “Some pro-Kannada groups  threaten in the name of protests to collect money. Kannada movements have become a farce and transformed into a medium of collecting money. The state government is reluctant to take any action - - -".

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here

What is required is for people like Dr Murthy to speak up repeatedly lest the damage caused to the image of the state becomes irreparable.

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