A six-year-old gang war triggered by two feuding cousins on the outskirts of Bangalore,which has left 11 dead so far,reached closure on Friday with the police gunning down one of the cousins,Bettanagere Srinivas,34,in an encounter.
On the run since July 25 when he is suspected to have employed 40 men,a truck,a mini-bus and four cars to kill Binnamangala Krishnappa,55,in one of the most elaborate gangland murders in Bangalore Bettanagere Srinivas was found hiding in an isolated house outside Bangalore.
A team led by Additional Superintendent of Police N Nagaraj shot Srinivas in the early hours of Friday,the police said. IGP,Central range,Amar Kumar Pandey said Srinivas had fired first and tried to flee,forcing them to fire back.
Bettanagere Shankar,who is currently in prison,had reportedly announced a Rs 2 crore reward on his cousins head to avenge the July 25 killing of Binnamangala Krishnappa. A local godfather,Krishnappa was a former gangster turned real estate businessman and was tipped to get a ticket from the JD(S) for the coming elections. According to police accounts,Srinivas had paid as much as Rs 2.5 crore for Krishnappas killing. Shankar,29,used to work for Krishnappa.
Such was Krishnappas influence that top leaders such as former prime minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda was present for his funeral along with son H D
Kumaraswamy,and Congress leaders D K Shivakumar,M Krishnappa and Narendra Babu.
Srinivas is believed to have turned against Shankar after a false implication in a murder case in 2005 and Shankars refusal to bail him out. Matters became worse after Shankar joined hands with Krishnappa. Around 2006,Srinivas started emerging as a rival to Krishnappa in the flourishing real estate business and political stakes in the Nelamangala region just outside Bangalore. The fact that Krishnappa provided protection to Shankar,who worked for him,was a thorn in the flesh for Srinivas.
Over the past five years,their rivalry saw a spate of killings of close associates. When both cousins landed in prisons in Karnataka,the gang war moved to jails. In January 2011,Shankar,then lodged in the Dharwad prison,made an attempt to gun down his older cousin with the help of former Chhota Rajan gang sharpshooter Yusuf Bachkana at Gulbarga jail. In March 2011,when Srinivas was shifted to the Mysore jail from Gulbarga,another attempt was made on his life inside the premises by undertrial prisoner Balaji Rao.
Srinivas,who was released on bail last year,and Shankar,who remains in prison,are widely believed to have been collecting guns to carry out attacks on each other. Krishnappas brazen murder,however,may have finally brought the heat of the police upon them.