Even as criticism mounted over the murder of BJP worker Praveen Nettaru in Karnataka and two men were arrested in the case on Thursday, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai met the victim’s family members in the evening, cancelling an event organised to celebrate his one year in office.
Bommai expressed condolences and said that he would help Nettaru’s family members.
Dakshina Kannada superintendent of police Rishikesh Bhagawan Sonawane said one of the accused was named in an assault case in 2020. “We have arrested Zakir (29), a resident of Savanoor, and Mohammed Shafiq (28) who is from Bellare. The probe is still underway. We will produce them before court,” he said. Police have taken another person to custody for further questioning.
“There is no registry or anything of membership but the information we have got is that he was associated with PFI activities. We have to now collect evidence to establish it,” he said.
More than 20 suspects were questioned over the murder. Two police teams are presently in Kerala, where the mastermind is suspected to be in. “The information we have is that three people were physically involved in killing Nettaru on Tuesday night,” a police official said.
Police are also investigating the possibility that Nettaru was murdered in retaliation for an assault on Masud, a painter, on July 19 in Kelanje by an eight-member gang allegedly linked to Hindutva outfits. He died in hospital two days later. Masud’s neighbours Sudhir, Sunil Kelanje, Abhilash Bellare, Jim Ranjith, Shivaprasad, Bhaskar, Ranjith and Sadashiva from Kelanje village were arrested in the case.
After Nettaru, a 32-year-old Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha worker, was hacked to death in Bellare on Tuesday night, several BJP activists have expressed anger at the government and party leaders by targeting the vehicle of its state president and submitting resignations. Yuva Morcha members continued their agitation on Thursday saying they would not work for the BJP till Nettaru got justice. Many of them took to the streets raising slogans against the party-led state government.
Pramod Muthalik stopped from visiting family
While Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik was planning to visit Nettaru’s family, the administration barred him from entering the communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district, with deputy commissioner Rajendra K V citing the former’s history of giving hate speech as well as the tense law and order situation.
Wives of the victim and an accused speak
Nettaru’s wife, Nutana, told reporters that her husband had not committed any crime. “He had told me the situation was tense after Masud’s murder and that people were not roaming as usual on the streets. He never had any kind of hate towards any community or religion and was on good terms with the Muslims in our neighbourhood. We still do not know why he was targeted.”
And Mohammed Shafiq’s wife, Anshifa, said her husband did not have any role in Nettaru’s murder. “On Tuesday night he came home and was aware that there was a murder but did not know it was Praveen who was killed. After he came to know about it, he recalled meeting Praveen in the morning, when both had greeted with smiles,” she told reporters.
“The police took him from home around 12.30am (early hours of Wednesday) for questioning on some other case. But I came to know only through the media that he was arrested for Praveen’s murder. Police are trying to frame him. Whenever there were issues, my husband advocated solving them amicably. He was associated with the PFI but had no role in the murder,” she said.