The dead body of a young man with bullet injuries, recovered on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border near Khanapur on October 18, is not of the suspect in the August 30 killing of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi, according to Karnataka police.
Some similarities between the facial features of the dead man and a portrait of a suspect in the Kalburgi killing – that was created out of the imagination of the scholar’s wife – had resulted in speculation that the unidentified dead man was probably one of the two murder suspects.
A joint investigation by police in the Belagavi district and the Karnataka state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has, however, claimed that the dead body was of Mahantesh Shirole, a resident of Kadapur village in Chikkodi Taluk of Belagavi district who was shot down in a family dispute.
“Drawing comparisons between the sketch and the dead man was itself wrong since the sketch was created from the fleeting glimpse that a witness got of the Kalburgi killer,” a CID official said.
The CID and the Belagavi police have arrested four persons including Shirole’s elder brother Nanda Kumar Shirole, his cousin Uday Kumar Shirole, and their associates Mallikajun Kotagi and Mallikarjuna Hosur for the murder of the 24-year-old youth.
The men arrested for the murder of Shirole have confessed to the killing. “The accused persons are in the custody of the Khanapur police. Shirole has no links with any organisation and his role in the Kalburgi murder has been ruled out,” Belagavi superintendent of police B R Ravikanthe Gowda said.
Shirole was involved in a few criminal cases and was in prison for two years. Police claimed to have obtained leads on the Shirole murder following a visit to the Hindalaga jail in Belagavi.
Though the body of Shirole was found on the Khanapur Londa road on October 18, it had remained unidentified till October 27 when it was buried by the Belagavi police. Soon after the body was buried speculations arose in some quarters in the local media that the dead man could possibly be one of the suspects in the Kalburgi case on account of similarities with a police portrait of a suspect.