WHEN THE Mysuru police arrested carpenter Abid Pasha, 34, on August 7, they reckoned they would find answers to two major crimes — the March 13 murder of Bajrang Dal activist K Raju and the June 2011 twin murders of business management students Vignesh and Sudhindra, who had been kidnapped. What they had not reckoned with was his involvement in five other murders.
Pasha’s revelations that he was involved in a series of four murders between 2008 and 2011 and another in 2014 have stunned the police, who had not even listed him as a suspect. They have now found that Pasha and a group of other men — whose affiliations they say are not yet clear — had targeted several people over moral digressions or associations with right-wing Hindu groups in the last eight years.
The city police said Pasha and this group not only targeted BJP, Bajrang Dal and RSS members in Mysuru but also teamed up with activists in Mangaluru to target right-wing leaders there. “They began targeting right-wing people soon after the BJP came to power in Karnataka in 2008,” an officer said.
One of the first murders in which Pasha was allegedly a central figure was that of Shashikumar, a Bajrang Dal member who owned a hairdresser’s salon in Mysuru and was in an alleged relationship with a Muslim girl. A gang hacked him to death in the salon on July 12, 2008. The then BJP government ordered a CID probe but the case remained unsolved until Pasha’s arrest.
The next target was Ananda Pai, a BJP leader from Udayagiri, Mysuru. Pasha’s gang allegedly attacked Pai, an employee of Vikranth Tyre factory, and a colleague, Ramesh, while they were riding a two-wheeler on June 9, 2009. Ramesh died while Pai, who was the target according to police, escaped with injuries.
Following communal clashes in 2009 over a dispute between a masjid and a temple over a piece of land at Kyathamaranahalli, Mysuru, the gang attacked V Giridhar, then president of the BJP’s Mysuru Yuva Morcha, that July. Giridhar was seriously injured and was in hospital for 41 days. “The gang of communal elements targeted BJP leaders to disturb the BJP government,” said Giridhar, now state secretary of the BJP’s SC Morcha.
In November 2009, Pasha and his associates allegedly attacked two brothers, who ran a book stall, on suspicion that they were funding the activities of right-wing groups such as Bajrang Dal in the city. One of the brothers, Harish M, died in the attack.
On May 21, 2010, the gang allegedly murdered a milkman in Pasha’s hometown of Hunsur, just outside Mysuru, over an alleged affair with a Muslim woman.
“In these crimes from 2008 to 2010, Pasha was never suspected. It his following his recent arrest that his involvement has emerged. He was a central factor in all these murders. He was not the only one involved, however. There were other associates including some who are yet to be arrested,” Mysuru police commissioner B Dayananda said.
Pasha’s name first emerged in a major crime following the double murder of the two students in June 2011. Vignesh and Sudhindra had been kidnapped days earlier with a demand for Rs 5 crore from Vignesh’s businessman father in Hunsur. When the gang learnt the police were on their trail, they murdered the students.
Investigations resulted in the arrest of five of Pasha’s associates and his name came up for the first time. The police and the then BJP government identified him as an activist of a group known as Karnataka Forum for Dignity, which in 2009 had merged with radical southern political groups of Kerala and Tamil Nadu under the umbrella of Popular Front of India.
Following the double murder, Pasha moved his wife and children from Hunsur to a house in Mysuru. According to his statement to the police, his next murder was of a Muslim woman, Parveen Taj a.ka. Munni, in Mysuru on July 8, 2014. This was allegedly an act of moral vengeance; he thought Munni was leading Muslim girls into prostitution.
The carpenter finally achieved notoriety following the murder of Bajrang Dal leader K Raju last March in communally tense Kyathamaranahalli. Raju was hacked to death in broad daylight at a tea stall, allegedly by Pasha. The motive according to the police was Raju’s role in a dispute over the land shared by the masjid and the temple, and the fact that Raju was a prosecution witness in the double student murder.
The Mysuru police began a hunt for Pasha. At one point they tracked the suspects in Raju’s murder to a madrasa in Pune, where they nabbed three men though Pasha escaped. He subsequently returned to Mysuru, where he was finally caught on August 7.
Commissioner Dayananda said the police are verifying Pasha’s links to radical elements and to underworld elements — he has allegedly been found to have allegedly participated in attempts made by India-based associates of gangster Chhota Shakeel to murder two-right wing leaders in Mangaluru.
The police have invoked sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against Pasha.