Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday announced that the investigation into the murder of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) worker Praveen Nettaru would be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Two days after Nettaru’s murder, a 23-year-old youth identified as Mohammed Fazil was hacked to death inside a clothing store in Surathkal region of the Dakshina Kannada district by a group of “four or five” masked men on Thursday night. The killing of Nettaru on Tuesday also took place in the same district.
Addressing the media in Bengaluru, Bommai said that it seemed that the BJYM worker’s murder was part of an organised crime with inter-state links. “We have decided to hand over the case to NIA,” he said.
Hindutva outfits and many people inside the BJP itself were demanding an NIA probe into the case. Nettaru, 32, had been hacked to death at the poultry shop he owned in Bellare village in Sullia taluk of the communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district. Police have already arrested two persons and are questioning many.
The attack on Fazil, meanwhile, was caught on CCTV cameras inside and outside the store. CCTV footage showed that the victim, a local businessman, was first attacked when he was talking with another person outside the store. The attackers, who seemed to arrive in a white car, chased him with machetes on the street outside the store. When he tried to take shelter in the store, they followed him inside and hacked him to death even as some store workers tried to chase them away by throwing things from a distance. They continued to attack Fazil even after he collapsed.
While the motive for Fazil’s murder is not known, police suspect that it may be linked to the killing of Nettaru.
“At around 8 pm, a 23-year-old youth was attacked with weapons by a group of four or five men. We have gathered some information from an eyewitness who was standing with him when the attack occurred, and others at the spot. A case has been registered in Surathkal police station and we are ascertaining why the murder occurred,” said Mangalore Police Commissioner N Shashikumar.
“The Mulky, Panambur, Surathkal and Bajpe police stations are sensitive stations and, as a consequence, we are imposing restrictions under Section 144 for two days till Saturday morning. Liquor stores will be closed in the region,” he said.
The attack at Surathkal occurred even as Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai visited the Dakshina Kannada region to meet the family of the slain BJYM worker.
On Thursday, police announced the arrest of two youths, Zakir (29) and Shafiq (27), allegedly linked to the PFI, in connection with Nettaru’s murder. Police sources had said that a preliminary probe revealed that the attackers came on two motorcycles with Kerala registration plates. Police are investigating whether Nettaru’s murder was in retaliation to the killing of an 18-year-old youth, Masood B, on July 19, allegedly by persons linked to Hindutva groups, following a fight over a trivial issue.