Missing taluk health officer traced


He switched off his phone and drove to Mangaluru reportedly due to the stress following a raid on a hospital

Hoskote taluk Health Officer Manjunath, who was reported missing on December 15 when he did not reach home after leaving office in his car, was traced to Hassan on Friday. Fearing the worst, the police had intensified their search after his colleagues staged a protest on Thursday.

“We were very relieved to learn that the taluk health officer is unharmed. In his statement, he said that he had been depressed and stressed over events after conducting a raid recently on a private hospital, and decided to go on a long drive,” said an officer attached to the Nelamangala police station.

He left his office four days ago after work in his car, but instead of driving home, he switched off his mobile phone. He told mediapersons that he drove to Chikkaballapura, Ramanagaram and from there headed to Mangaluru. “He then decided to return home and drove back to Hassan,” the officer added.

By this time, the police had launched a massive search. A police team saw his car and escorted him to the Nelamangala police station.

According to sources, Manjunath was being harassed by Jayaraj, an aide of MLC M.T.B. Nagaraj. On December 10, Manjunath had raided a private hospital and seized medicines worth ₹10 lakh that were stored in the premises and sold illegally.

“Family members and colleagues claimed that he became very tense after the raid. On the day he disappeared, Jayaraj and his accomplices confronted Manjunath at his workplace demanding that he return the seized drugs,” said a police source.

After the confrontation, Manjunath went to lodge a complaint with the Hoskote police only to find Jayaraj there.

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“At the station, the police reportedly advised the official against filing a complaint and urged the two men to compromise. While he was leaving the station, Jayaraj once again allegedly threatened him,” said a source, adding that these events that precipitated Manjunath’s decision to drive away on his own.

A highly-placed source said the police discouraged Manjunath from filing a complaint due to the upcoming gram panchayat elections.

While the taluk health officer has not filed a complaint against Jayaraj, his family members are demanding that action be taken.

“I was so upset that I had switched off my phone and was not following the news. However last night, I saw my office staff staging a protest and many of them crying, which made me realise that I had to come back,” Manjunath said.

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Sagar Biswas

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